The distance from my bed to a cup of tea at Starbucks is just under ten miles as MapQuest would direct me — a short, 13 minute ride on the Nittany Valley Expressway. On Sunday morning traffic is sparse and I can ride as fast or as slow as I chose within the possibilities afforded by the Vespa. Indifferent to route, riding demands focus to remain safe. But focus doesn’t necessarily translate into awareness which, to me, is something bigger and more important. Awareness can be a result of riding but not always. It requires a measure of deliberate choice and focus before I find myself dwelling in the moment — appreciating life and minute, near invisible details that make up the world.
The Vespa leaned right and exited the Expressway to take a different route. Standing, looking, watching the clouds move along the horizon with the sun warming my face in the brisk air I felt the muscles in my face relax into a smile.
I was on the right path.
It takes longer to get places when you turn off the main road. Narrow gravel paths don’t lend themselves to breathtaking lines of speed. And you never know when some of these tracks will just end, or you’ll find a locked gate. Patience and persistence are useful qualities, neither generally associated with riding scooters or motorcycles. And they remain as elusive and slippery as ever since I seem to naturally gravitate to the path of least resistance — fast, easy, cheap.
Making a different choice is painful whether to ride down this road, push the scooter out of the garage when it’s cold, or pretty much do anything that I’m not programmed to want to do. But I have to say when I do make the painful choice — it’s worth it.
I don’t think this cattle guard does much good anymore beyond offering a little test of the shocks on the scooter. Thinking about these little rides I can’t believe how thrilling they are. Not the kind of high speed, exotic lands, soaring rides I see in movies or read about in books. I’m referring to the absolutely normal, everyday, easily accessible journeys I can make when going from point A to B for errands or a commute to work.
I’d like to take some of those other rides but circumstance has me here, in the cold, next to a cow pasture, on my way to Starbucks…
I stood for a long time watching the cattle though I’m not sure even now why. For whatever reason it was satisfying to be there and take in one moment and then another, and another until finally, I made a decision to move on.
And that’s the path I took last Sunday morning. I have no idea what’s on the path tomorrow…