Thursday, November 19, 2009

Under the Tree

Riding is, for me, a great experience. Even when traffic sucks and I am splitting lanes for the better part of 32 miles, I find myself enjoying the experience.

It's about focus and rhythm. Sliding between threats, aware of everything in your environment, and making the best speed possible. Rounding a corner in a 45 degree lean and powering out of the corner in a perfect line is just...sublime.

It is difficult to relay the experience to one who has not felt it for themselves.

As I have written about earlier, I came to it late. My father owned a boat when I was a kid, and I was made aware at an early age of the many ways that being a courteous boater could pay off.

Bikers seem to get this too, for the most part, and are generally up for a wave and nod, usually accompanied by a secretive grin, telling the other rider, "You get it too!"

This common experience is an interesting phenomenon that I recently talked about (In a different context) with some people I consider smarter than myself.

Something that I have dwelt on since those conversations was the concept of 'tribe' or 'bonding group' and how one comes to share an outlook, resources, and identify with a group.

I like to think of myself as an individual, and am comfortable enough with myself to be alone. But then my career, my hobbies, and now even the method I use to get to and fro push me under the tree with certain people sharing some commonality of experience.

Interesting to me is the extent to which I can be identified with the groups I consider myself a part of.

Most of the guys I went to college with swallow and say, "What did you say you do?" when I tell them what I do for a living. One even refuses to call me back.

Many of my old associates can't believe I ride.

Most of those I work with find it bizarre that I speak more than one language. They don't understand when I say I have worked 'wet-back' before.

Most of the civilians I come into contact with are floored when the realize after a brief contact that I am not the jack-booted Nazi their bias dictates they beleive all officers are. They can't believe that I haven't had to shoot someone (Or that I don't want to, if I don't have to).

I often wish that people were self-aware enough to know that being in the shade of one tree doesn't prevent discovering the details of the person beneath it with you, or the ones in the sun, or the people under the next tree over.

Move through the trees, taking what shade and ease you find, but don't deny others their place, with you or otherwise.

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