Are frightful grey follicles making an uninvited appearance? Has my “grumpy” quotient increased exponentially since my 20’s & 30’s? Is it the not so chiseled six-pack? (Actually it’s more of a single pack now)
It’s funny, but the things I used to do at a younger age (mostly in my 20’s) did not necessarily cause me to pause and think before taking action.
Testosterone? Yes, to some extent. Lack of maturity? In certain situations, most assuredly. When you are young, you sometimes have a deluded sense of invincibility.
As I thought about this, I recalled an extended motorcycle group ride with friends one year ago on Good Friday. In Christian circles that day that is set aside to remember the scourging and crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Now here is someone who had put his life on the line….literally for ones who really could not care less about Him. It is a day usually set aside globally for reflection, remembrance, thankfulness and forgiveness.
On that very day while standing with my fellow bike friends in a parking lot beside a highway in Owen Sound, we watched many bikes go by. Cruisers, sport bikes, choppers..all kinds. One particular sound caught our collective ear as it rose in pitch, coming in from the east. As we turned to track the sound we noted a bright fluorescent green super sport bike with two passengers. As it came abreast of our group the driver decided to do a wheelie – ostensibly to impress the standing group of bikers it was currently passing. (I believe I had previously mentioned something about delusions – immaturity – whacked out perceptions of invincibility).
Now our code of conduct as a social family riding group advocates that safety is always paramount. As I watched the sport bike whizz past with the passenger hanging on to the driver with the front wheel in the air, I thought about the two hundred (for some three hundred) or so kilometres that we had just navigated prior to getting to Owen Sound. Two to three hundred kilometres of hand signals, speed limit pacing; watching for scurrying animals, road debris, watching out for other riders in the group, watching for cars passing and coming in the opposite direction.
Apart from the fact that this rider was breaking the law, I wondered if he (I assumed it was a he) was older or younger than I was. Not that stupidity is limited to young, highly testosterone-charged males of the current dominant species; I just could not envision myself doing that. Not just now, but at any age. Thankfully my wuss-factor is of a high order – my wife would probably say not as high as the grumpy one, but high nonetheless. I am supremely grateful that I started riding in my mid-forties. Lots of time for unused testosterone to get flushed from the system.
What is interesting is that as a young man in my twenties I used to fly aircraft in and around the mountains of British Columbia. Updrafts, downdrafts, crosswinds, Mountain Waves, Standing Lenticular clouds and sundry other meteorological phenomenon were in abundance to keep any misguided aspirations of aberrant behaviour from taking root. There are miles of plane wrecks all across the BC interior to attest to that form of thinking.
As the whine of the sport bike dopplered off into the west, we communally shook our heads and prepared for the final one to two hundred kilometres back to our homes. A couple of hours later with the bike a little bit dustier, but safely nestled in the garage, I was relaxing watching the news on TV when my ears perked up about a motorcycle accident.
The news announcer said that two men were allegedly racing their motorcycles on a Mississauga street Friday evening when according to police, one of them crashed and died. Around 7 p.m., the pair were trying to exit from Mavis Rd. onto the eastbound lanes of Highway 401, when one of the bikes lost control and drove off the road, snapping a highway marker in half and skidding into a ditch.
The 31-year-old driver was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead. His name had not been released pending notification of next of kin. It was reported by police that a 32-year-old man who was riding the other motorcycle left the scene. Within a few hours, police had tracked him down and charged him with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death while street racing, criminal negligence causing death while street racing and driving while suspended.
I thought again about this special holiday. While not everyone may adhere to its tenets, for my part I reflected on the beautiful day riding with friends; I remembered how I thought as a younger man; and how thankful I am now for being forgiven for some of the idiotic choices I made in my youth. The opportunity for wisdom that comes with age allows me the privilege of appreciating what I have now.