Why wait to create a bucket list? A bucket list is a list of all of the goals you want to fulfill, dreams that you have and what you want to experience in your life before you leave this earth. On May 15, 2015, I rode in the Pride Ride 2015 on a motorcycle. It was my first time. I am grateful that I rode.
In 2013, I decided that I needed to make some changes in my life. I was inspired by the fact that my children would be teenagers in 2015. Writing a bucket list is complicated especially if you are busy taking care of work, house and home. I began to feel like my life has been flying by and I could not really say that I had done certain things. My list is simple compared to others. However, everyone has something they want to do, even if it is to make a family quilt, go scuba diving or visit Brazil.
In 2013, I started working on myself. I started with procrastination and overcoming it. I needed to become more productive and timely. I used to spend a lot of time shuffling and thinking that there was something always more important than what I was actually supposed to be doing.
Procrastination urgency is just stress productivity, which may be good for the short term but in the long run it takes a toll on your body and mind. What I found was that avoiding the task actually made it more intimidating to get done. Fear then kicks in and then an adrenaline rush occurs which really cuts into the time you have left to complete the task. What I ended up realizing was that the end result actually was not as good as it should be. Last minute activities just put off the inevitable. I started to tell myself that as soon as you have the idea, project or event, start planning as soon as possible. I now leave a half hour before I have an appointment. The fear of not making it on time or getting stopped by the police is not constantly nagging at me.
Prior to the motorcycle ride, I had planned all week to wake up bright and early. I had worked so hard all week producing the newspaper. I went to an Olivet College event on Wednesday night, which was a production night. I never do that because inevitably I always run into a problem with the paper layout. I did it anyway taking a risk. I did not procrastinate so everything went smoothly. The newspaper production went well. On Thursday, I had Rotary and a personal issue came up that could have derailed my entire day but I smiled through it. Thursday night I had a sore throat and it was raining.
When I woke up, I texted Linda Mogyoros, the coordinator of the Pride Ride 2015 and wrote: “Hi Linda, I won’t be riding today because of the rain and I have a sore throat. My regrets.”
I was exhausted from the week and closed my eyes, it was raining hard and at 7:45 am, I laid back down. I did not have to really go I told myself and as I began to slip back into a deep sleep Linda called and told me that I did not have to ride and asked me to come anyway. I again thought to myself about my sore throat and realized the medication I took the night prior seemed have cured one on my excuses.
I got dressed and drove over to Local 652 on Clare Street. Lansing is a town of unions for sure. However, this event was one that anyone with a motorcycle could be a part of. I was not sure whether I could ride on the back of a motorcycle or not. I heard so many stories both good and bad. All I could think about were the bad ones. I thought surely it would be sort of like riding in a boat and being tossed about. What I learned was that you must experience for yourself and not experience what you formulate in the mind or listen to what others tell you.
I met Cliff Jones, my escort for the ride and immediately found him to be quite likable. I told him that I had to put my purse in the car and he said he had a compartment for it and not to worry. His Honda Gold Wing sat in the parking lot like a chariot. He asked me if I brought my own helmet and I told him that this was my first time riding on a motorcycle.
As the motorcycles lined up and we were ready to take off, the rain stopped just like as if on cue. I heard that it was one of the smallest groups and that the rain prohibited some from riding but for me it was like being a part of a calvary. Mounting the motorcycle was like getting on a small horse. Cliff told me that he had been riding since he was 19 years old.
It was like riding in an open limousine. I could not think about anything but the openness and being at one with nature. His Gold Wing had almost 129,000 miles on it. As we began to ride, I asked him if it was all right to hold on. I could feel my heart beat reverberating through my body. One of the women told me that I looked scared. I am not sure what emotion I was feeling but it was a mixture of excitement, fear and giddiness. I was finally riding on the back of motorcycle.
I could not have had a more pleasant experience. It was not too hot and not too cold. Cliff’s radio was on WMMQ and the music was a great accompaniment to the feel of riding on an open limousine. During the ride, songs from Bon Jovi and AC/DC came on. I was in my element and at one with the outdoors and the music.
Our ride was 20 miles, Cliff told me that he has been to 49 states. He spoke about his trips to Alaska, Key West, San Francisco, Novia Scotia and the British Columbia. I was surprised how well I could hear him. I was looking at every thing. I felt like I saw everything. It was quite different from being in a car. My favorite part of the ride was watching the birds as they flew along side. There was a goose on the side of the road appearing as though it was looking at each motorcycle that passed by. Its head turning each time a motorcycle swished by.
Cliff at one point told me that I could lift up the shield on my helmet and from that point on until the end of the ride, I felt even more amazingly free. When the ride was over, I can truly say that I was disappointed. I wanted to ride on the highway free and uninhibited by the confines of the steel and plastic of a vehicle. When the ride was over, I gave Cliff a big hug. I am not sure that he is aware of how life changing the experience was for me. I conquered plenty during that ride. I thought about many ways to overcome, be fearless and not allow what others have to say change the direction that I am going in.
This was Linda’s last year. I could not miss it. How did I ever consider not going? I got a black leather vest from Tammy Shabluk and a UAW pin for the ride.
I also heard stories about past rides. They honored Jim Hardy who died from cancer last year. My new friend, Jodie, could hardly contain herself as she spoke about his life. After the event she showed me some different motorcycle sign language. Tapping the top of your head means the police is near.
My intent is not to buy a motorcycle and for those who told me now you should buy one, it is not for me. My only goal was to ride and it was absolutely as spectacular as I thought it would be and that is all that matters. One checked off of my bucket list, now on to learning how to fish.
This column was printed in the May 31, 2015 - June 13, 2015 edition