Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Price of a Little Adventure

Today, as I was leaving home late to go to the office at 10 AM, it was 3°C (for those of you in the non-metric world, that is 37.4°F). A little above freezing.  Even the "banana belt" of Canada, the Vancouver area where I live, can have cold winters.
As I drove down the road, my fingers felt as stiff and as brittle as popsicles despite the fact that I was wearing gloves. It was a "damp cold", which felt much worse than the actual temperature. Even though I was dressed warmly it seemed to cut through my coat and shirt, taking my breath away as the cold crept through me.

I carefully watched the road ahead for ice, left over from last night's freezing temperatures and the morning frost. But, for the most part, the friction of speeding tires seemed to have warmed the highway, now steaming in the filtered sunlight. While icy puddles had formed in the shadows on the road's shoulder, there appeared to be no significant risk of hitting ice on the freeway itself.

Regardless of the reduced peril, I clutched the handlebars tightly, my right hand and arm stiffening against the cold, the Parkinson's tremors accentuated by the biting of the wind. I hunkered down behind the windshield; my helmet still being buffeted by the early March gusts crossing the highway where it was not lined by trees. It will likely surprise no one that I failed to see a single fellow biker on my 20-minute trip to work. But the sun was out, albeit weak and only temporary.  I was anxious to ride again, to experience the thrill of being powered down the highway on two wheels, braving the elements and enduring the surprised and scornful looks of commuters, shaking their heads as they enjoyed their climate controlled vehicles.

I, too, began to wonder why I had somewhat foolishly ventured out on such cold early spring day. But my grasping for some logic or sanity in that decision was short-lived. Riding "Big Blue", my 2007 Gold Wing, with its 1800cc’s of quiet power, was purely an expression of my passion for a little adventure. It brought a smile to my face, and a lighter step through the day. Even my late night ride home through the rain and the dark did not dampen my enthusiasm. Any day I get to ride is a good day. It is a day when my Parkinson's disease is almost forgotten, banished from my brain by better thoughts of past and future adventures astride the two wheels of my touring bike.
Despite, or maybe because of, having a degenerative disease, there are plenty of experiences to generate joy. There is an abundance of adventures; a passel of passionate pursuits. With a little imagination, we can all try to escape the entrapment of our current cycles and circumstances. Sometimes we just have to be a little crazy.
Swim outside in the winter. Ski in the middle of summer. Run in the rain. Suntan in the snow. Have a picnic in the park at midnight. Stay up all night playing Monopoly with friends. Take an imaginary journey through a country picked randomly from the Atlas, like Azerbaijan, Burundi, or Comoros. Phone a relative or acquaintance that you have not talked to in over 10 years. Sleep on the floor in front of the living room fireplace one night.

The price of a little adventure need not be high. Life is too precious, too short, and can be too predictable. Why not try something a little outrageous? Something that shouts, "I am alive!"

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