Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Shadow Knows

I can't say that I grew up ever really wanting to ride a motorcycle.  (We're not going to quibble here about if a scooter is a motorcycle or an entirely different being.  To me it's a type of motorcycle as a Sousaphone is a type of tuba though there are purists in low brass circles who disagree.)  Anyway, riding as I do on the scooter is nothing I ever dreamed about when I was a kid and thinking about all the fun I planned to have when I was all grown up.  (Neither am I going to argue about whether or not I'm grown up.)  Oh, I know I put a playing card on my bicycle sometimes so it would make that brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp sound, but not with any delusions in my own mind's eye of trying to present myself as if I were a biker on a Harley.

There are some things with which I just never occupied my thoughts as a kid because I knew (in some part of my brain that Freud might not have given its own name) that certain thoughts would just have been absolutely unthinkable.  Like asking my mom if we could get a dog.  Like asking my dad for a go at the circular saw.  Like telling either of them that I'd like to get a motorcycle of any sort.  It would have been simply out of the question, so my brain didn't bother itself with any fantasies of the kind.

When I got my first scooter, for a time the novelty of being on it and riding around was just utterly fantastic.  This was myself cruising around on a two wheeled motorized bike! I saw myself almost as if on the sidewalk watching myself go by sometimes rather than from the viewpoint of the rider.  I was doing the unimaginable!  The unthinkable!  The verboten!  I was riding a bike and not working up a sweat!  I was on two wheels as when I was 10 and on my trusty bicycle, but this time my chariot had a gasoline engine and no pedals!

Admittedly, I've gotten used to being on the scooter and the novelty is well worn off.  My viewpoint is no longer from the observer's perspective; I'm the guy holding the yoke and controlling the movement.  It's still a thrill to ride every time I'm on it and it's no less enjoyable if it's my tenth ride or my thousandth.  But, most of the time I miss the glee of being surprised in what I'm doing and having overcome the "Don't you even think about it" barrier.

Until I see my shadow, that is!  Every time I see that the black silhouette on the pavement is clearly the two dimensional, dark doppelganger of me on the scooter, that initial glee of having overcome the boundaries of the unthinkable is with me once again.  This time of year, especially, as in the spring, the longer than usual shadows are hard to miss and I take much delight in seeing that black 15 foot high silhouette of me not going by, but accompanying me.

For the record, I had a dog too after I left Mom and Dad's house.  And I built some decent things while using a circular saw.  They never quite thrilled me, though, as much as riding that scooter - something about which I never dreamed.

It's nice to be reminded, by something as simple as a shadow, that even the wildest undreamt dreams sometimes come true - that life is full of surprises and some of the biggest and best never get old or stop thrilling us.

No matter how long those shadows get, as long as there's no ice or snow on the roads I'll be out there enjoying each of the seasons as I'm able and recounting here the thoughts that come to me as I'm riding along usually going nowhere in particular.


kz1000st said...

Riding anything for me has always been as matter-of-fact as breathing. My Dad rode for decades before I got on a bike and I always considered my bicycle years as the apprenticeship before the main event. I can't even fathom a time when I don't ride. Dad is 89 years old and still throws his leg over a Kawasaki 750 a few times a week. I'm glad you're seeing the joy that so many of us get from riding. It's a wonderful thing.

David Masse said...

Joe, there is something about riding. I could easily have expressed those same thoughts, right down to the bicycle, the playing card and clothespeg, and even the circular saw.

You're right that scooters are motorcycles. But now that I've ridden both, scooters are better machines in some ways.