Yesterday was my longest day of riding yet on the GL1000. There was a bit of a chill in the air. I had to run the engine with the choke open for a while to warm her up, and typical to this vintage Gold Wing, smoke came billowing out of the exhaust. One of the neighbours stuck her head out of the door to see who would possibly dare to make such a commotion so early on a Sunday morning. There simply are no ‘quiet exits’ with a Gold Wing. I and my commotion departed around 9:30 AM.

Once on the highway, I was glad I had decided to wear my long underwear. I wished I had thought of adding the liner to my jacket, and I began to dread the trips I might have to make in the coming months as the temperature continued to drop. But for now, I was glad the sun was already up and just had to be patient until it rose a little higher in the sky. After 8 hours of riding, a few necessary breaks, and some stiff shoulders, the warmest part of the day had come and gone, and I arrived at my destination slightly chilled and longing for a hot shower.

As I thought back on those 8 hours, I was struck by the play between myself, the motorcycle, the road and the weather. At the start of the day, I was excited to be moving again. I was a bit apprehensive about crossing a border, yet curious what my new hosts would be like. My two weeks in Kortrijk were just long enough to find a routine that worked, and now I would have to figure out a new one. The Gold Wing had begun with sputtering and coughing, but as the day wore on, seemed to run better and better. As for the roads and the weather, you just have to take them as they come. French weather seems pretty comparable to the Belgian variety, but the French definitely build better roads.

Most of the time, I was simply going about the business of driving safely, staying alert, monitoring the sounds of the motorcycle, feeling the pull and push of the trailer I am pulling, stopping for gas and stretching my stiff legs. In the morning my mood was one of expectancy. By midday, it was more like monotony and as I neared my destination, it turned into relief. All of this is to be expected during a road trip. Part of the joy of traveling (they say) lies in the unplanned and unexpected moments that you experience. Yesterday, I experienced the unexpected, and it surprised me!

In-between all the ‘normal stuff’ of traveling, there were short bursts of what I might term ‘momentary synchronicity’ where everything seemed to come together into one almost indescribable feeling. It was as if the motorcycle and the road had decided to be friends. As if the sun was shining just for us. In those moments, I was not tired, bored or frustrated, but rather thrilled to be exactly where I was. I felt miles away from loneliness. The normal grinding of the motorcycle gears was instead a very steady hum, almost restful. It felt more like I was hovering just above my seat. Even the sound and pull of the trailer behind me had disappeared. During one of these moments, I looked up to see the sun streaming through the leaves of the trees and had the feeling they were all waving at me, cheering me on. Each time, almost as soon as I became aware of it, the moment would slip away and leave me with simply the realisation that it had come and gone.

A momentary feeling of…Joy. That is what a ’momentary synchronicity’ actually is? Each time I tried to put what I felt into words, I kept returning to Joy. True and simple joy is what I was experiencing. Truly there was nothing different about the road, the sun, my motorcycle or me, and yet, in those moments, absolutely everything was different. It all came together. ‘What’ came together? Where? I don’t know, but it did.

Thinking back, I am tempted to believe that this feeling of joy was ‘caused’ by the combination of physical attributes: motorcycle, road, sun, me. I am tempted to believe that, if one of those aspects was absent, I would not have felt joy. But, there is also the possibility that it has more to do with an almost meditative state brought about by hours of rubber against tarmac and wind against the body. A sort of Zen state. And in the middle of that Zen is the realisation that Joy is everywhere and in everything, just waiting to be felt. Also in the combination of motorcycle, road, sun, and me.

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