Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sometimes You Have to Wrench on Life

There has been some very serious tinkering going on in our garage over the past couple of weeks. Apparently motorcycles, older ones like my husband’s particularly, have a personality; Mike’s is a bit of a prick with hypochondriac tendencies.  That’s a nice way of saying the damned thing doesn’t make caring for it easy and decided not to start this cycling season. (Story note: I’m going to use the phrase ‘the damn thing’ repeatedly throughout this piece as that is actually the name I have given Mike’s bike… mostly, except ‘damn’ has replaced a much ‘F’-ier 4 letter word—it’s a well-earned moniker)

Our goal is to have the damn thing running like a top before Friday 13th so that Mike can make his ride to Port Dover.

There is a chasm of uncertainty and repair that spans the distance between ‘the damn thing won’t run’ and ‘Dover’.

I offered to help, but I didn’t really know what I was doing or in for.  Trying, testing, cleaning, replacing, repairing and rebuilding. There have been numerous trips to dealerships, chain stores and motorcycle graveyards to collect parts, tools and fluids. Hours have been spent pouring over repair manuals and grease-monkey forums. I’ll be honest here and admit that I never actually picked up a tool. My ‘help’ was mostly moral support with a side of reading and eyelash batting encouragement.  The air in the garage has been thick with smoke, heady with fumes and on more than one occasion —blue.

Sometimes a change works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes fixing one issue sheds a bright white light on another problem. While I’ve hit the wall of ‘damn this’ more than a few times in the process I’m growing a deep affection for the iron beast; in comparison I am not fractionally as needy and temperamental—how can you not love a thing that makes you look like a dream to live with!

Slowly…hideously slowly, after painstaking hours of fiddling, Dover has come into sight.
We cracked a cold one, man cave style, last night in semi-celebration of our success in finally getting the engine running (if not purring). I stared at the damn thing and a wave of accomplishment washed over me. We did it—conquered the damn thing!

But the battle was a challenge. At first we stood around with our hands on our hips starring at the lifeless machine and surmised the many various possibilities why it wasn’t working. Next we tried a couple of quick fixes and proclaimed our frustration as each failed. We got a little indignant with not knowing why ‘the damned thing’ wouldn’t run. Then we walked away for a day or two ignoring the bike as though fixing it didn’t really matter. At some point however, reality set in and the acknowledgement that our days to Dover were dwindling took us back to the garage. It was time to do the hard work. We began digging, investigating, examining the parts, the systems, the problems, the potential failures. Little by little, the more we delved into the troubles and slowly repaired each kink in the chain things improved. First a spark, then a crank, then a choking, spitting, backfiring rumble followed by a stall, a return to hard starts and then back again to good ignition, a high idle and a stall. Eventually though, through determination we’ve made it to the miraculous stage of ‘tweaking’! Hallelujah, raise the roof and pass the gravy! (or in this instance degreasing hand cleaner)

Barring any further neurosis of the damn thing Mike will ride to Dover. This is a very good thing. Riding, Mike always claims, is how he gets his brain back. Blacktop therapy. We all need it—a way to find and feed our inner peace.

It seems to be the same with motorcycles as it is with people

The trick to finding inner peace is getting the bike to run.

You have to have work through the problems, investigate the source of emotional struggles, acknowledge and repair and be honest with your own short comings, take ownership for your part and ignite a desire to fix it. Through the problem not around it lays the path to achieving freedom and the goal. And yes sometimes it sucks, sometimes it sets you back, sometimes it has you doing and acknowledging things you wish you didn’t have to do or face. Sometimes you need help. But when you finally get through the process, when everything runs and the problem is not just behind you but repaired….—Man, life is a sweet ride!  

Take a chance...see where the road takes you.