Philosophy and Motorcycles

Philosophy and motorcycles are two of my favorite things in life. This blog will be bits of wisdom gleaned from a misspent youth and an adventurous dotage. People who like/love wisdom or motorcycles, classic or modern versions of either, are welcome to visit and comment.

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Location: Wisconsin, United States

I have been married to the same lovely woman for decades. We have one son, two cats, and live in rural Wisconsin, USA. I ride and rebuild motorcycles, and I am semi-retired. Favorite bikes are Yamaha XS650, FJ1200 and Ducati 900SS. My wife is a home care nurse. I am a Myers-Briggs INTP. She is ESFJ. Our son works at the Apple store in downtown SF and is teaching English as a second language in San Francisco, no grandchildren.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Seca comes home.

I sold my 1973 TX650 to an old friend who lives out on the Minnesota prairie. Since I had to deliver the motorcycle to him I planned to spend an extra day riding the area with him and catching up on news, telling a few lies and visiting friends. Fate intervened and the trip was shortened. It was still a good experience, just not what I had imagined. I loaded the TX and my XV920R on my trailer and headed out Friday morning. It's about 250 miles from my place in Wisconsin to his house in South Western Minnesota. To help pass the time I took along a book on tape of Steinbeck's Travels With Charley. He wrote of an incident where a lady had come from a bar. It was winter in New York and the walks were quite slippery. She fell and, trying to get up, fell again. She lay on the sidewalk yelling loudly. A black man who was employed by the author was walking on that same street. Upon seeing her he went to the other side of the street and avoided so much as looking her way. When he arrived at the author's dwelling he was asked about the incident. "Didn't you see her?" "Yes sir, I saw her" "Why didn't you try to help her." "Well sir if I touch her and she screams rape it could draw a crowd and then things happen and who's going to believe a Negro." "That was quick thinking" said the author. "No sir it wasn't. I been practicing being a Negro for a long time now." The story makes a good point. We practice being ourselves and if, by the seventh decade, one has not developed a satisfactory way of dealing with his own reality he never will. While few of us have challenges so socially severe as the Negro in the story we each have our own history and experience that shapes our reactions and actions. My life is perhaps less freely of my own choosing as I would like to believe. Thoreau wrote that age was not so good a teacher as youth as in the process men have lost more than they gained. I don't know that but it has the smack of truth. I am certainly more cautious than I was and in the process have become more safe but less joyful. Is the loss of the exuberance a fair price for a small level of safety? My young mind says I paid too much but my aging body claims it a bargain. Such are the musings in my rolling museum. There was a hard wind all the way south and west. It came from my flank, sometimes helping me along and sometimes trying to drive me off the road. Rain the morning after my arrival. The temperature was in the low 40s. I decided to shorten my trip. I delivered the TX and made my excuses. I had also an appointment at home that provided a convenient excuse for not staying longer. It's true you cannot go home again. There is no past to go to. The talk of time travel amazes me. It seems to me, with admittedly scant real scientific education, that in order for there to be a past it would require the rearrangement of all the particles of the universe into their former pattern. This, of course, is an absurd idea. The moving finger writes and having writ moves on. I am now a citizen of this area and that area exists only in my mind. What exists there is not what I remember and not what I know as I do not know its current configurations. It is nearly as unknown as if I had not lived there for some 10 years and had only arrived there new two days ago. My friend had traces of his former self but has changed in ways I could not have predicted. Still I am glad I was able to get a classic motorcycle to him and I hope it brings him the same slow lane and back road enjoyment it brought me. On my return trip my truck, pulling the trailer with two motorcycles, averaged 12 mpg. I had two rather than one since I had been given the motorcycle I sold Terry a score of years ago. He remarked that he had not ridden it for some years but was surprised that it was last registered in 1999. Our tempus fugits. The Yamaha Seca 550 is a wonderful little bike. This one is sadly neglected now but basically intact except for missing side covers. It will be a long time before I have an opportunity to work on it but it has potential and only 15k miles. I know Terry did not abuse it but neglect can cause as much damage as abuse if continued long enough. The 550 Seca is another machine with which I am fairly familiar. I have had three of them and they are surprisingly agile and quick for a machine more than three decades old. The rare original fairing is intact and all the bones of it are whole. On my return I put things away, moved my car, parked the trailer and then took the car, my 1971 Chrysler New Yorker, for a ride. Driving it I remembered that it too gets about 12 mpg average and as much as 17 - 18 on the road. I probably could have taken the Chrysler on the trip and got the same mileage in much better comfort an style. So ends my most recent trip to the prairie. I have mixed memories of the area. I prefer it here and now. I've had a lot of practice being Walter and being here. Unlike stories of childhood walks to school it cannot be uphill both directions but it can be up wind both directions. It was a very windy time in my life when I lived on the prairie and most
of it was in my face. It's good to be home. Walter


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