A Writer's Quandary …fixed with help from a BMW motorcycle

Sometimes, desperation gives clarity
Simple dirt. It’s made of gravel, pebbles, flakes of once great ancient trees, rotted plants, mud and sand swept up, down, back and forth from millions of years of erosion. Maybe it’s not so simple?
Lately, my dream job in the automotive industry has become abhorrent to my creative mind. What was once a vivid dream of gorgeous metallic sculptures dancing playfully between my fingertips, arousing my senses, filling my heart with joyous purpose and meaning, has become stale, boring, an impotent drudge of tedium beyond what mere mortals exposed to greatness should ever have to return from. It’s become a hollow existence in the shadow of beautiful creation.

This sounds pompous. The ramblings of a spoiled brat not getting their daily dose of intravenous octane. But my job was where I sought solace from reality. A place where my dreams manifested into reality. I got to talk about cars. All day. For no apparent reason. And people listened to my sometimes asinine points of view. It was an escape from other, more real and painful problems. Like my wife and I not being able to conceive. A problem that’s haunted us for the past year and a half. Doctor after doctor, test after test, not a single answer to the ever-pressing question of “why?”
Between losing my mind at work, and quietly saddened—hidden away from my wife—I was spiraling, looking for a nonexistent exit to my existential crisis.
How then can the unpretentious, basic substance like dirt be so cleansing to one’s own soul? Speckled across my face, matted in my hair, grit lodged in my teeth, it’s vanquished the devil torturing my creativity, washing away the angst and torment.
Dirt. My salvation.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Three weeks before, BMW dropped off an F 800 GS Adventure at my house. A daring dual-sport motorcycle with knobby tires, heated grips, rugged saddle bags and a spirit that begs for what its name implies; adventure. I wasn’t sure of that when my caretakership began, but after weeks of digging into back country roads, roaming abandoned state parks, splashing through rain-washed canyons and carving impenetrable fog, it allowed me to find peace and perspective at a time when I was awash.
When something has been over-analyzed, over-talked about, over-everything’d, I need to get away. To find clarity in life’s muddled existence.

Adventure into the unknown, breathing in the world around me, something Bill Watterson imbued in me through my childhood and into adulthood love of his philosophical texts, Calvin and Hobbes (I implore you to read Yukon Ho! or It’s a Magical World if you don’t believe me) is my medicine. And it’s what a BMW motorcycle and a muddy, dirty, rut-ridden hellish and glorious set of off road trails, dirt paths and railroad access streets delivered.
Off California’s roads’ smooth surfaces, riding alongside the cold steel of a long forgotten train’s path, I can feel as the knobby tires grab the uneven dirt path and fling the rocks and twigs through the air; a rooster tail of dusty plumage. The gritty surface speckles my helmet, pitting its brightly colored facade. Broken sticks, branches and beer bottles—remnants of rebellious teens—litter the ground, I dart through the natural and man-made obstacles with ease. There’s a cool wind blowing but the warm glow of the sun heats my back.

The path I’m following slowly turns to loose golf ball-sized rocks. The motorcycle’s wheels pivot and lose grip. Its tail fishes back and forth like a salmon swimming upstream. I dial back the throttle as I’d rather keep going than have to crawl out of this abandoned vista with a broken leg or fractured arm.
A momentary lapse in concentration finds me at a fork. A literal and metaphorical conundrum if there ever was one. It brings all the feelings and emotions up to the surface. I could look at the navigation this bike comes with, but is that what I’m looking to do? Maybe I don’t really want to know where I am? Knowing where I am and where I’m going is a shackle, a mooring line tying me to reality and I haven’t thought of work, paperwork, bills, credit or anything life has thrown at me since I decided to see where this path led. I’d rather not start now. It’s just me and the dirt and not a soul around to disturb its peaceful tranquility. The GPS stays stowed in the box behind my right leg.
Now it’s just a matter of picking between a muddy, rut-lined trail with stagnant puddles or a dusty trail with rocks and crevasses?
Splashing through the puddles, the cool day-old water soaks through my boots, heavy jeans and lucky shark underpants. I can feel the slow trickle of gooey mud running down my legs, slowly filling what little space I have left in my tight-fitting boots. With another much larger puddle creeping ever closer I slow to take stock in whether or not I’ll splash right through or drop to the bottom of a ten foot deep sinkhole.
Should’ve just tempted fate and went for it.

The weight of the heavy adventure bike slowly begins to sink in the soft, rain-soaked loam. With my heart racing as the bike is threatening to become a permanent addition to the trail, I give it a bit of throttle and try to leave. The bike dies. The clutch and gas need a more forceful approach. Gassing it more, I move an inch. The bike dies again. With a fistful of throttle and a silent prayer the bike leaps forward, front wheel letting sunlight in between it and the ground as I plow through the swamp-like conditions.
Soaking wet, grinning from ear to ear, I’ve made it through the gaping pond, but an old gate has stopped my progress. Seeing that there’s no lock, I push it open with the front wheel and throttle up a furrowed track heading up a hill that overlooks a green and lush valley below. At the top, I have a clear view to watch the blood-orange-sun shrink slowly behind the San Bernardino Mountains and bring forth the cool starry night sky.
The following day, rain has mired the Californian forecast. Temperatures are hovering around 55 degrees and there’s a layer of impermeable fog. Off I embark with reckless abandon.
Pushing through the fog—I can barely see three feet in front of me—I point the bike at a grassy berm and head onto a desolate road that’s been cut off from civilization for what appears quite some time. Rolling over the broken and cracked fascia of a forgotten concrete bridge, the rain wicking my helmet’s shield, I find myself in a long deserted state park. Grass is pushing through the concrete, pieces of lumber from the visitor center and gazebo are strewn about, and there’s a matted down meadow, evidence that a herd of deer have been staying in the immediate vicinity.
Quiet. Peaceful.

I stop at the foot of an old overgrown path that runs along the canyon’s river, a gurgling torrent of the fresh mountain showers. The grass is knee-high and the rain and dew that’s trapped on its surfaces are drenching my jeans. The dampness doesn’t even register.  Staring at the beauty before me—the fog-draped mountains providing a backdrop for the contemplative stillness of this untamed wilderness—and again, with no distractions of the real world, my mind races with new ideas, adventures and creations. With a guttural howl emanating deep from with me aimed at the heavens above, I vanquish the drudgery and chaotic anxiety ruling my world.
Maybe I just needed a break? Maybe I needed the quiet? Maybe I just needed to find a quiet place and let out all my tamped down creativity and stress in one cathartic? Maybe it was the motorcycle?
Indeed, life with this type of motorcycle means that you can live a life worthy of those brave, intrepid and often foolishly naive explorers that came before. Those explorers that traveled and trekked to distant lands, got stuck, fell over, fought through rough outbacks and placed both feet onto ledges declaring they wouldn’t go quietly into the night, working at a desk, toiling against life’s unending doldrums. They’d rise above the cataclysmic forces set to break their wills and dreams.  They’d persist.
The BMW F 800 GS came into my life just when I needed it most and transported me to a world where I exited cleansed, a clean slate, tabula rasa, a dirt and mud speckled maniac who’s pulse once again raced, eyes dilated and yearned to put pen to paper—or in this case fingers to keyboard. It brought back a man once again ready to be the partner my wife needed. Instead of a depressed, shallow, somewhat cold thing, I was human once again, ready for anything life could throw at us.

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4 responses to “A Writer's Quandary …fixed with help from a BMW motorcycle”

  1. Batshitbox Avatar

    In both the physical and metaphorical sense, I think you’ve earned yourself a new T-shirt
    P.S. Where in CA do you find these ‘abandoned’ and ‘deserted’ state parks to ride around in? I’m asking on behalf of a friend.

  2. outback_ute Avatar

    On the drudgery/tedium aspect – that’s why they call it work! Kudos to those who can find the magical “do what you love, never work a day in your life” job.
    On the conception front, friends were there and went the adoption route. It took an astonishingly long time but they now have a son and are really enjoying life.

  3. longrooffan Avatar


  4. DoctorNine Avatar

    Beautifully written. The essence of motorcycling.
    You would have had more fun on a smaller bike tho.
    Less is more. In so many ways.