I went on a ride into the past recently and caught up with an old friend I hadn’t seen for twenty-two years. We were bikers then and both ride a Harley now, the same model even.
But that is as far as the similarities go. We each went very different ways in different countries until we met up again after what seemed to be a whole lifetime. What was perhaps the most surprising thing about it was, we were still in many ways the same people we used to be. Although so many things had changed for both of us.
Was it the Harley that provided the common ground?
In those twenty-two years I had turned from a student of literature into a journalist travelling the world.
He still wears colours, is a member of an old and widely respected international motorcycle club, the real thing. He had lived his dream all his life.
I had only dreamt it, not lived it.
But we have both made the Harley real.
So is it our dreams that make us what we are while our lives are just what happens depending on our respective conditions of socialization?
Are there perhaps more ways than just one to be the real thing and live it?
Or does your machine make you what you want to be?
There needs to be a clear NO to the last question. We were bikers then, even on Japanese manufactured motorcycles. Milwaukee iron certainly makes things easier but it can’t change everything.
It will not do, to buy a Harley-Davidson, trademark boots and a jacket and logoed shirts and all the rest of it. It won’t make you the real thing at least not in everybody’s eyes.
But maybe the bike starts a process that will get you there eventually, even a woman, even in the eyes of one who would never let a woman life his style of life.
I think now and even more so after I have caught up with him after such a long time, that it is the dream that does it. That makes us real and then eventually even the real thing.
You end up with enough common ground to cover the differences life has dealt out to each of us.
Common ground. That seems ridiculous if you look at it from a neutral perspective. But it isn’t ridiculous at all when you look at it, sitting in the saddle of your Harley-Davidson.
It was great meeting you pal! Ride safe.