roadside reckoning

I got out on the motorcycle yesterday.

NH, like most states, is under a Stay-at-home order but the details on riding aren’t clear so I took it out. Worse case scenario, a cop will turn me around. But not before I ask him, without being a smartass, is there any better “Social Distancing” than a motorcycle?

I needed to get out. I needed to turn off the news. The constant flow of bad news was wearing on me. Wind Therapy was the only answer. My bike called to me.

I was reluctant to take her out. The tires are worn, the oil is old, it’s not detailed to my satisfaction. My appointment for the yearly service is Tuesday, a dialysis buddy is a bike mechanic that works from his garage, and I really should have waited until it is serviced to ride. I already dropped the new tires, oil and filter and air filter to him. But I figured a quick 50 miles would be ok. I checked the oil level, tire pressure, turned the key and my baby roared to life. After a sufficient warm up I was off.

One thing I love about where I am is my proximity to Maine. I am twenty miles from the border in two different directions. From a riding perspective this is a beautiful thing. New Hampshire and Maine are incredibly scenic. The views of the distinctly New England style homes and farms is complimented by the barrage of fresh, fragrant air in your face as you roll the roads. NH is nice, Maine is even nicer.

I drove a familiar route yesterday. I first passed through the town that borders NH. It is a bittersweet experience, driving through it, parts of it reek of abject poverty evident in the crumbling houses and broken down cars in the drive. Then you come upon the beautiful restored farm house with a imported car in the drive. A town that resists the influx of gentrification yet quietly acknowledges its need of their tax dollars.

The route provided ample supplies of both the rundown and the restored and I can say that the view hasn’t changed much since last year with one wonderful exception. People.

The people were out. Families were together. Sitting around makeshift campfires. Burning brush. Raking leaves. Playing games. Riding ATV’s. I even saw one family having a picnic by the side of a river, cliché’d red and white blanket and wicker basket and all. People waving to me, the kid with the fishing pole and waders signaling for me to rev the engine.

I don’t remember EVER seeing that before.

I can’t explain it in any other way, it’s the Coronavirus. For all of the bad it has created the forced togetherness is bringing people together. That is a beautiful thing that I could write about for volumes. But I won’t, I’m just going to leave it right here.

When I got home I was sufficiently refreshed in both body and spirit. Sure, part of it was the motorcycle. It always refreshes me. But the scenery; the wondrous sights of family, community, dare I say normalcy that I was blessed to see refreshed me in so many other wonderful ways.

“Playing the card”

It is truly a great thing to meet a blogger that you become actual friends with outside of the blogosphere and its routine of merely reading, liking and commenting on posts. I have such a friendship and we had breakfast Sunday morning.

Much of the conversation revolved around our health. She is a recent Cancer patient, note that I did not say “Survivor” and she is well versed on my situation so it was to be expected that our health challenges would be a part of the conversation. After a hell of an ordeal, she looks great. Healthy, fit and her attitude and demeanor are positive. Me, I like to think that I am the same. I live my life in a way that I hope nobody will say “Hey, that guy looks sick.” It was like talking to a female version of me sitting across the table. Like I said, refreshing.

It’s something that I have blogged frequently about, the inevitable spiral of being chronically ill to the point where you become the “Sick person.” The unfortunate reality when the first thing someone says when they see you is to ask how you are feeling. It is not that it isn’t appreciated, it certainly is, but it tends to be your identity above all else that you are, offer, or aspire to be. It can become your identity. If you let it. She and I both refuse to let it.

But then the conversation went in a related but refreshing direction when she uttered a phrase that is not new or original, but timely as hell and needed to be said.

“Everyone has a card to play.”

It really struck a chord with me and we talked about it at length. The words “survivor”, “sufferer” are an extrapolation of the victimhood culture we live in. People fall back on identity to define themselves, inject their ordeals into unrelated conversations and situations to elicit a response, sympathetic of otherwise, or in the worst case scenario, to obtain an advantage or alter an outcome. My friend and I are both tired of it and refuse to “play our card”. We don’t care if you are a minority, a woman in a man’s world, Gay, trans, poor, or misunderstood. Don’t let victimhood be your defining trait. Just live your life.

Everyone has a burden to bear. That is the origin of the famous saying,
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
But the true warriors don’t announce their burden to the world, they generally go about their business the best they are able. Yet many insist on letting their burden define them.

As we wrapped up, we inadvertently revealed that we both derive great pleasure helping and supporting others It serves several purposes; It is our obligation as human beings to support each other, it takes your mind off of your own struggles, and most importantly, it reminds us that everyone has something to deal with.

Here’s to being strong. Here’s to taking advantage of opportunities and not problems. Here’s to standing tall. Here’s to the day when equality is assumed and not demanded. Here’s to the end of the victim mentality. We all have so much to offer the world if we shed those shackles.

Most of the bloggers I follow have some kind of Chronic Illness. NONE of them complain. They just want to be normal.

What is normal? I suppose that is a topic for another day.