While walking the dogs tonight, a memory from thirty-five years ago reran in my mind. It was one of those scary situations that I have laughed about off and on. Not only that, but it demonstrates so clearly how pride has been ever present, and ever so faithful to lead me head long into folly.
My then wife and I had separated. I had arrived early on a Saturday morning to pick up my son for the weekend. As I parked my car I noticed a new Kawasaki dirt bike in the driveway. I believe it had a small 75CC engine.
I had always wanted a motorcycle. I was immediately lividly jealous that my wife, who refused to agree to let me buy a motorcycle while we were together, had taken up riding motorcycles with her boyfriend. “Is that your bike out there?” I asked.
“No, its John's. He's keeping it here so we can ride together,” she said without any hesitation. Of course, at that moment, a torrent of emotion hit me like a flash-flood of high turbid water in an small arroyo. At the top of the list of intense emotion was jealousy, a very close companion of pride.
“You can try it out if you want. John won't mind.” My ex-wife was not a mean spirited person. She meant it sincerely, knowing that I wanted a motorcycle of my own.
“Really? Cool.” She handed me the keys. I didn't hesitate.
I sat on the seat of the small bike, turned the key, kicked the crank. It started on the first kick. Unbelievable exhilaration flowed through me. I didn't even have to face the embarrassment of not being able to start it. I pulled the clutch, kicked the gear shift for first gear, rolled the throttle, and popped the clutch. The bike popped up on its rear wheel and rocketed down the driveway with me hanging on for dear life, sprawled horizontally with my belly on the seat, my legs somewhere behind me in the air, and my vision blocked by the bike's headlight.
In a split second I was into the street and heading for the opposite curb, completely out of control, totally panicked. Upon realizing that my hand was still pulling the throttle, I released it and jerked the hand brake. Yes, the handbrake stops the front wheel, and yes, bikes do flip when you apply the front brake incorrectly.
As I pulled myself up off of the grass, I looked back at our house, hoping the wife had not seen what must have been a very comedic display of utter stupidity. I picked the bike up and examined it. I was relieved to see it had not been damaged. I remounted, re-started, and this time, slowly released the clutch as I gently rolled the throttle. It was a good ride around the block and back to the house again.
“Well, what do you think?” the wife asked. If she had seen the clown show I put on, she did not let on. She was then, and still is, a very sensitive and caring person.
“It was fun. I'll have to get me one. Except maybe a 400CC bike or something. Then, as I learn, I'll work into a bigger bike.”
A couple of years ago, I read Wispers of the Spirit by Ann Albers. I was impressed with the wisdom I found in the book. I felt then that I had learned a great deal. I loaned it to my step-daughter, hoping that she could harvest some of the wisdom, as well. At the same time, I had developed a strange opinion of Ms. Albers. The entire book centered on her experience, the very parts of life that brought her to spiritual realizations and a complete change in her life. On one level I admired her courage. On another level, I was jealous that she could abandon a promising life style, for a more spiritually oriented life style and fewer materialistic guarantees. On yet another level, Ms. Albers seemed to be a self-centered giddy convert to a new religion, promoting her “testimony” of how she arrived at such great spiritual heights.
Last Wednesday, I had need to find a particular passage in Whispers of the Spirit that I wanted to share with a friend. As I skimmed the text for the passage, I began to notice something. “Man, this book is packed with wisdom!” I thought. I am reading the book again, and this time I see something entirely different. The words haven't changed. Obviously, I have. When I first read the book, I was in a prideful, “Let's see if she can teach me anything attitude.” I was a stupid old man trying to be cool on an out of control motorcycle. Today, I am a seeker. Pride does not let go easily, but it is losing its grip. I have a thirst to learn. Ann Albers has much to say, and I'm listening.
Be Peace. Be Love.