“You just keep going
You just keep trying to get
right down to the crux.”
I discovered these lines painted on the wall of the Equinox room of the McMenamins Grand Lodge, where I am right now practicing my paper for tomorrow’s meeting of the International Motorcycle Studies Journal Conference. Coltrane is a personal hero, one my father bequeathed to me, and to find a room dedicated to him in this rambling building of antiquities and folk art was surprising.
Coltrane’s sums up why I ride and what I mean in my catchphrase, “Onwards.” If I read him correctly, it’s about struggle with the imagination—with the perfection that lies in personal vision, a perfection more true than any individual sightline. That struggle puts interiority (the personal self who imagines) against exteriority (the artist, the motorcyclist). To many listeners, Coltrane achieved that perfection, but I think he rarely hit what he could imagine. Onwards, onwards in the face of obstacles, in the face of failure, before the very face of perfection.
I rode in the heat of today drained by yesterday’s sun. I rode through Idaho, through the desert of eastern Oregon, through the Gorge’s rainforest, through Portland’s overpasses, through the farmland to the west. When I unpacked, my clothes burned with heat. My body warmed the shower’s water.
Usually I ride with one goal: to get there—wherever there is—and to get home. In this ride I have endeavored to stop and sit with people. Today was with my in-laws, Gary, Su, and their better-behaved Blue Healer, Howdy. They are well: ruddy cheeks, apples growing to overfill the baskets, new outbuildings. They fed me home-baked bread and thick espresso, and we proved close enough to talk politics. Yay chickens!
Even at 1300 miles in two days, it’s a slower pace than I normally ride. Sometimes pushing to the crux involves riding out into terrain that isn’t marked by distance so much as by friendship.
Love it! McMenamins in Forest Grove is one of my favorites (on the way to wineries). Keep on keeping on, Kuskin!
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Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.
Quote from some old ‘50’s bhikhu
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