Monday, August 1, 2011

The Three Things I Learned at Motorcycling Class

"So be it! So be it! I cry in this manicured wilderness. "Who gives a damn!"
Excuse this outburst.

Motorcycling is not for me, though I learned a lot in the first five hour practice.

First, there are few things in my life I have needed or wanted that were difficult to learn. Motorcycling is one of them. It is a physical ride. My childhood fear of cars reverberates through the manufactured plastic and r-clips, and I question the lack of seatbelt. Frustration with the basic controls is compounded by knowing the consequence of a real-life failure. The pavement is very close and a huge number of otherwise minuscule forces have the potential for a really great moment. I alone seemed unable perform the simple motion of flex and squeeze, and I became childishly frustrated. That is the second thing I learned. I need to know that feeling of failure. It hurt in my gut and at the brim of my eyes- a full-bodied saline aftertaste that choked and stung. I sucked in my breath at the edge of crying. I queued the steps of stopping and asking to quit. Then I started breathing. I let it go. Some things won't come naturally, whether academically, in the work force, or growing a relationship. If I understand and anticipate this reaction, it will be easier to work through. It is how the body forces a reevaluation, whether to find a solution in walking away or trying something new. Finally, I recognized a good teacher. Two instructors monitored our course for the day. One, a retired Cornell math professor and grinning bike enthusiast named Tony, complemented his knowledge with unequaled encouragement. He knew I was frustrated, that I was scared and embarrassed. He responded with a soothing laugh that spoke "calm down, it's okay, take your time." He made me deeply ashamed of my impatient pride. If I am explaining something "stupidly easy" and the person doesn't catch on quickly, I am condescending and impatient in a disgusting way. How many times have I humiliated and discouraged my own mom asking for help? This arrogance needs to be purged if I ever intend to show love or kindness. Failure is a potent reminder to do so.

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