Before I catch up with my normal operations in this blog, and who knows what can be considered normal operations, I had to take care of two more job assignments before year’s end: Honolulu and Olympia. But most importantly, I had to take care of the end of the world business.
As a consultant I always think I get more out of a job than what I bring to it. Sometimes the learning is part of the particular job itself, sometimes it is what I learn from others along the way during my travels including people not related to the task at hand. I particularly like to learn about different cultures and their perceptions of the world or simply what are their day to day tasks. Even the watered-down Hawaiian culture counts. If it helps me be a better person at the end of the day, great. And in that case it eventually becomes part of what I consider my job experience. Personal growth matters and I have lots of room to grow in this department.
Sometimes the learning has a lot to do with helping me see richness out of what I could one day had seen as something ordinary. Or it could be about making sense out of what could be interpreted as chaos. If traveling means going out of the comfort zone then it becomes that nudge that brings opportunities for learning. In the end it can simply be about renewing or raising my awareness overall for what it means to be alive. How good that is and how thankful I am for that.
And no better time to talk about life than today when we all awoke to the realization we are still alive on one more of the many dates predicted to be the end of times. Are we all here still? And what a beautiful set of numbers it is: 12/21/12. The Mayans didn’t see this coming in such a nicely arranged set of numbers. They did not predict the end either.
Flying involves risk and flying is somewhat a part of my job. Is it less of a risk than riding a motorcycle? I don’t have an answer to that question, but overall I like it better when I’m in control of a situation (even if that is a lie). That is, I feel it is safer to ride my motorcycles than to fly on commercial airlines. Even if riding statistically speaking involves more risk. Knowing the risk means I’m never oblivious to it. But I’m never stressed about it either. It is just about being ready for the unknown. On my flight from San Francisco to Eugene on Sunday evening (12/16) the winds were really strong in the valley. Just past 1:00 am (now Monday), when we were supposed to land in Eugene, the captain of the Skywest regional jet I was flying, after circling for a while around the Eugene airport and after one botched attempt to land diverted us to Portland (we were about 50 ft from the ground, on a very very bumpy descent when he changed his mind and took off again). All other flights in that same evening landed safely in Eugene. I guess the pilots on our flight thought it better not to risk circling one more time and run out of fuel eliminating the option for the alternate airport. Maybe that was a vital decision. This is a good time for me to disclose my approach to life: life is eternal, for as long as I’m alive. After landing in Portland at 2:00 am I spent the night at the airport waiting for United to provide alternatives for us to be brought back to Eugene. I flew to Eugene the next morning. So my learning can continue.
Landing during daylight hours gave me a chance for a birds eye view of the crossing of Praire Rd. and Hwy. 99, where Praire Rd becomes Hwy. 36 (Low Pass Road), which is my gateway to my Pacific Loop. How long till I will be riding those roads again? And what bike will it be? [But I digress from the subject at hand – each thing at its time.] After half a day of rest I found myself flying again, this time towards Seattle.
At the SeaTac airport I rented a car and drove south towards Olympia. First snowy day of this winter season for me.
A few years ago on one of my trips to Olympia I had dinner at an Italian restaurant called Basilico, right in the old downtown area of Olympia. It is one of those small restaurants where the owners are either in the kitchen or serving you. Or both, as is the case for this restaurant. An authentic Italian restaurant serving freshly made pasta. I was so glad when I found out they do not use ricotta cheese on their lasagna. That is proof of authenticity for an Italian restaurant. If they use ricotta on their lasagna, they are something else, but not Italian. On that first visit to Basilico in Olympia, years ago, I met the owners, one of them Italian, the other Italian-Brazilian like me. Each time I return to that restaurant I get to talk more with them and get to know more about the owners and we have a great time talking about several topics, from soccer to life in Italy to life in the Pacific Northwest.
This time was not different. I had been a year since the last time I was there but we continued the conversation right from where we had ended it the last time. And from there we went further and eventually talked about life. I mentioned motorcycles and how riding can be viewed as a form of meditation and the conversation escalated from there. We talked about Hinduism and Buddhism, two of the oldest religions there are. It is incredible how old these religions are and how in so many aspects they can be viewed as contemporaneous evolved religions when compared to the Judeo-Christian religions that dominate our political discourse of today. I’m no expert on religion, but I’m willing to learn more about these older religions, about self improvement, and improved awareness and consciousness of our role in nature and in society. Although I know a thing or two about these religions, I had forgotten about their existence. Having that conversation at this time of my life was a new learning experience to me. I left Olympia with more in my bags than what I had when I arrived.
There are many things we as humans and as a society need to improve. How can some of us live with such primitive beliefs as thinking the world will end today because it is the end of the Mayan calendar? We can do so much better as a civilization and at this point of our civilization history.
But yes, although I recognize the need for improvements in my life, I have to say these improvements will not mean I will get rid of my motorcycles. Major flaw, right? I’m too tied to that part of the materialistic world. I thought about some explanations that would justify the three bikes I currently have (well, two at this point), but they are all no more than lame excuses. For example, I can’t reasonably claim I need three motorcycles to reach a meditative state that I could claim would eventually help me with my life improvements. No, I can’t claim that. But I genuinely look forward to learning more from you and from all others who I will encounter on my day to day ventures. As long as it doesn’t involve selling my motorcycles.
And since we are talking about all of this today, Happy Solstice! It is a good time for renewal. You can read my thoughts about it on my last year’s post entitled “Happy New Year“. And here goes my Happy New Year to you as well, in true pagan tradition! I’m looking forward to longer days ahead and many many motorcycle trips that will take place in this new year that starts fresh when days get gradually longer. I hope our paths may cross on the trail, the road, or in our story telling.