The ride is not always the end in itself. Sometimes it’s an excuse for something else. For me, that excuse is a desire to see the world.
After a day at work, or in some situation where I’m cut off from “the world”, I feel the pull to get out and away and experience the thrum and sound of the places and people who I share this space. The Vespa scooter as it winds it’s way along roads and through towns, the places it delivers me to drink tea and watch the people around me, it is the perfect tool to serve up a dose of the world.
The rain moved out of the valley by the end of the day and the long light as the sun neared the horizon painted a dazzling portrait. Riding the scooter along the rural roads near home entertained the senses — the sweet smells of flowers and grass, the sound of birds lost in twitterpation at the end of a day, and the mesmerizing scenes that unfold mile after mile.
For much of my life I needed an excuse to experience the world. Some reason was required to walk out the door and look around. It wasn’t enough to just go and do nothing. I’m reminded of hunting and my father. He loved being in the woods but the only time he ventured out was during hunting season. It was the only reason he knew, in his experience of the world, that would allow a grown man to be in the woods.
My mother had wanderlust. She thrived on being in the world. But only within the reasons to be in it. Travel, socializing, work. Like my father, she embraced the accepted reasons to be in the world that allowed her to experience it.
I suppose I did the same. I abandoned hunting for hiking and backpacking. Added bicycling walking to the reasons I could experience the world. Photography provided a passport for experience as well. And riding the Vespa was another road into the world.
A man on a bicycle stopped while I was making this photograph. I saw him coming down the road, a slow meandering ride with his bicycle moving from side to side of the road as he looked around. “A beautiful evening. So much to see.” he said. It was obvious that he wasn’t a rider hell bent on exercise, performance or getting anywhere in a hurry. Like me, he was just looking around.
Looking around. It’s my favorite thing to do. Whether on the scooter, in the car, walking through the neighborhood or sitting in a cafe watching the people. Above all things, I want, I need to experience the world. And the great thing is I don’t have any requirements on time or place. There’s no feeling that experience only exists in some far flung place that means the moments passing by until I get there are somehow less important or meaningful. It’s what allows me to trod the same space over and over again and find it often as rich an experience as the first time I’ve been there.
Riding as the sun was setting in a place I’ve experienced a hundred times was nothing short of magical. I told myself I need to do this more often. That I don’t need a reason. And at the end of my life, I suspect if I have a desire or regret, it will be to experience the world one more time.