When you’re down, it’s time to get out.
I remembered this important axiom of mental health yesterday. Or rather, I was reminded of it, by my girlfriend — who gently suggested we take the old Kaw out for a ride after an especially wearying day. The ones and zeroes that somehow generate the appearance of EPautos had misaligned or whatever it was that went awry and EP has the same affinity for ones and zeroes that Joe Biden has for the Bill of Rights.
What to do? My ape-like reaction was to sulk and fume, alternatively. If I’d had an old tire hanging from a rope, I would have swung from it while gesticulating angrily through the bars.
And not made it any better.
But the Kaw did. I needed the medicine — and the reminder.
Like many, I sometimes get bogged down and tied up in work and other things that have a tendency to make you forget about the important things. These are the things you’ll look back on fondly one day — and which you’ll regret not having done more of at the end of your days. Work pays the bills. It may even be important work, beyond just the paying of the bills. But there is more to life than work, something I have to constantly remind myself of — sometimes need to be reminded of.
The old Kaw — a 1976 Kawasaki Kz900 — had been sitting patiently under cover and on the battery tender for the past two months-plus. Of summer. Which is almost over. How did this happen?
It happens with depressing frequency, as anyone who owns or has owned an old bike or classic car can — or someday, will — attest. Life and stress creeps up on you, like roadside Kudzu. Your intentions are good. We’ll ride this weekend. But then the weekend comes — and the grass needs to be cut, the kids have practice or (as in my case) the coop needs to built, plans need to be considered as regards the siting of the greenhouse. There is always something — or so it weighs on you — and it gets worse as you get older, in part because you get older. You aren’t the Energizer Bunny in middle age that you were in youth.
You get done with the stuff that has to get done and then you’re done.
There is no more energy left, even if there is time. You want the sofa and to able to close your eyes for just a while. And then it’s tomorrow and we’ll ride next weekend, maybe. Before you know it, two months and most of the summer are gone.
How now green Kaw?
I walk past the bike — two bikes, the other another old Kaw — every day on my way out to do something else besides ride. Each time I do, I think to myself — tomorrow. Yes. I’ll ride then. And then something comes up, something that frazzles me — like the ones and zeroes — and the life force wilts and the bikes just sit.
This is a bad spiral — for the bikes and for me. You, too — if you have the medicine in the garage and refuse to take it. It’s a weird and self-destructive hang-up some of us have. It is fueled by this feeling of obligation — to everything except ourselves. This is the etiology of dust-collecting. It is why so many classic bikes and cars sit neglected — and their owners, too.
The solution is not to sell them, the mistake many make. All this does is encourage more marinating in the things that you won’t regret not having done more of — and spent more existential angst on — when you are at the end of your road.
I needed a reminder, of that.
And thanks to that, I backed up my chair and left the computer just sitting there, for a change. Out in the garage, the Kaw waited. The blanket came off and I was reminded of how good she looks — of how she makes me feel, just looking at her. Resplendent in deep green with gold striping accents; the big air-cooled four’s pistons waiting to dance. I unhooked the tender and backed her out into the sunlight. Fuel tap on, choke lever up.
Would she respond after months of neglect? She always does — part of the reason I love her so and now (once again) I remember why. A little smoke, the result of all that sitting. But within seconds, the Keihins are sucking air in proper syncopation and the old Kaw is ready to roll.
The sun warmed our faces, the wind on our skin invigorated our senses. With every shift (and squeeze from behind) I began to feel better.
We gave her a good workout — and got worked out, ourselves. Ivermectin may cure the ‘Rona, but an hour in the saddle heals the soul.
Don’t forget this. I almost did.