adventures with Henk the Buell

My Photo
Location: global

Celebrating people, ideas & things that make the world a better place. Kitchen Chemistry, Social Alchemy, Adventure Activism.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

For the first time on this journey, I'm at a complete loss for words. It's not writers' block, as I initially thought; it's more a feeling of being on the edge of something HUGE.

Some great chasm sucking meaningless words from my throat before they're uttered, or even thought; an evaporated emotion in the form of orderly letters strewn into the abyss.

There's a silence, a moment of stillness, an eerie suspension of time that happens when universes that have fallen apart begin to slowly coalesce, their fibers and planets and molecules spiraling closer, hushed together, meeting in a way they've never known, holding, resting weightless in mid-air, waiting for the moment of truth, that HALLELLUIA when, in a flash of beauty and magnetism and rightness, in a simple breath, quiet as a whisper, they DECIDE to love.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Getting to know someone in the realm of infinite possibilities is a strange and magical gift. On one hand, the past no longer exists and the future is wide-open, unknown, vast, big, endless. On the other hand, the present moment is limited to my thinking mind--tuned to the past and the future. If I turn off my mind, like in the first few moments of the waking day, or in those one or two seconds where meditation is actually successful, the rest of whatever supposed matter and ether I call “me” knows the way, and the delight of my soul has nothing to do with the past or the future.

I have absolutely no idea where I’ll be tomorrow, and now, more than ever, I’m hyper-aware of the fact that the tiniest shift in thinking, or in not thinking, or the tiniest action, or non-action, changes the course of my life. I’m standing at the end of the springboard from which any direction is brilliant because just the act of diving in implies faith. It’s the reason I’ve taken this adventure: to feel that razor’s edge, that peeling away of the superfluous layers that obscure my spirit’s path, to bounce on that springy end once or twice, maybe a third time, allow my toes and heels to lift off, feel the emptiness of that space and the hugeness of the potential in that action... and jump.

I remember being three or four, standing at the end of the diving board at the deep end of the YMCA pool. I didn’t yet know how to swim, but my dad was in the water with open arms saying, “Jump! I’ll catch you!” Having never tried, I had no reason to believe he would (nor did I have a reason to believe he wouldn’t, but I was still scared). I hesitated for a few minutes, contemplating my only other choice: climbing back down the ladder to safe and solid ground. But other children had lined up at the ladder, blocking the way, so I stood halfway to the edge in the safe middle of the board, waiting quietly, and he insisted, “Come on! Jump! I’ll catch you!” Realizing my only choice was to believe that he would, I somehow managed to stop thinking about it—suspending my fears for a brief second—and leapt toward his open arms. Just as he’d promised, he caught me. And worlds opened.

I’ve carried that gift, that knowledge that everything is going to be ok, that blind trust, with me my entire life. So when someone asks me, with genuine fear for their own future in their voice, “What are you going to do next?” I just smile and try to witness that smile from my present place and say when “next” reveals itself, I will know. The present moment is potent with possibility, but the unknown…the unknown is an open invitation to GREATNESS.

The same question could be asked, with genuine love and support in their voice “When the present moment reveals itself, will you have the courage to leap?”

Henk went to the doctor today. Scott, the “Buell go-to-guy” at Santa Fe Harley Davidson tightened his clanking primary chain and found the problem with the signal lights. After some tinkering and an oil change, he’s as good as new. While Henk was under Scott’s expert care, I snuck out for a little spin on Ulysses. John, the sales manager, wasn’t going to let me take him for a test ride because policy states that you must live in New Mexico. But after I convinced him that I do, in fact, live in New Mexico this week, and after I’d entertained him with stories of my four-month odyssey, an exception was made.

I knew I’d love him. He’s like Henk’s much more refined, slightly more forgiving, and definitely taller uncle. Hmm…What’s a girl to do? There was no way for John to know my feelings, having just met me, so when he uttered the blasphemous phrase, “We could take your bike on a trade,” I managed to hold back my deeply possessive crazy woman’s scream, “Noooooooooooo!” and politely let him know that was not an option. Thank god Henk was not within earshot! But Ulysses is soooo smoooooth. And he could take on the Dempster Highway in his sleep. I know he’ll be in my fantasies.

Is it possible to love two motorbikes? Hmm…I think so. I think my heart is big enough now for two bikes, a dog, a cat, several men, and a whole entire universe of beautiful spirits. Apparently, the Land of Enchantment can do that to you. Now, if only I can tap into that expansive New Mexico energy and get my bank account to swell…

Thursday, October 13, 2005

If letting go implies grasping, then I am still hanging on to some memory or ideal or past life. If we do indeed, as Buddha says, suffer because we are attached, then I must be a masochist. It’s uncanny how many layers of letting go I’ve peeled away on this journey. I thought I’d let go when I closed the door behind me in Toronto. Ha! What a fool! Ron is still, four months later, thousands of miles away, capable of reducing me to tears. Or should I say, I am capable of reducing myself to tears when I revisit old stuff. So I practice…

I sometimes wish I had the seriousness to become an ascetic. Wouldn’t it be great to have ultimate control over desire? Once I got past the solemnity and austerity of it all, I’d be perpetually blissed-out in a transcendental time/space expansion module where infinite perfection simply IS. I would love everyone in that universal “every spirit is beautiful” kind of way and Henk and I would ride around the world spreading peace and love and denying every earthly pleasure that came our way.

As it is, I’ve been dancing in and out of the middle ground between asceticism and indulgence. Perhaps one day I’ll land in the sweet spot—that’s where Buddha found enlightenment—the sweet spot.

The funniest thing is happening here in this strange little town called Santa Fe. Actually, it’s not happening in town at all; it’s happening in the warm little bedroom of this beautiful man, his sanctuary that he’s offered me.

We’ve finally met, after five years, on equal ground. Both of us have let go of any expectations, any need to force an outcome, any desire to be together-- and perhaps because of that letting go, we now get to choose how we will ultimately hold each other. It feels clear. And expansive. And platonic. And loving in that universal “every spirit is beautiful” kind of way.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Henk and I rattled and clanked into Santa Fe on Thursday evening after chattering and sputtering over the 11,000 ft divide between Silverton and Durango. After all this time on the road and all the turbulent miles behind us, it wouldn’t have surprised me to have lost the drive chain that’s been loosening for weeks just north of the New Mexico border. But Henk is a warrior and I’ve become his fearless freedom fighter. It was almost as though, in the final three or four hours, he was saying to me “Pay attention: I’ll get you where you want to go, but are you absolutely certain you want to go there?”

So I paid attention. And the most unexpected, most wonderful thing happened. For the first time in five years, after pretending to let go, and pretending to let go, and pretending to let go, and believing I actually had…I actually…let go. Somewhere inside “The Land of Enchantment” (although I can’t be sure I was actually inside because there was no sign saying “Welcome to New Mexico, Land of Enchantment”), I let go entirely of the need or the desire to see The Man With Whom I’d Been So Enchanted.

And so I rode into this strange vast ancient desert land, almost a country unto itself, with my open heart, an inevitable amount of body armor, and no expectations.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

One can strut around a town as laid back as Silverton looking like a fraggle right off the rock and not get a sideways glance. I just got in and parked Henk at the hostel, dropped my bags and took a walk in my leathers with my duct taped boot and a gold and black rasta cap that Brett slipped into my bag before I left, saying it looked better on me than it did on him, and besides, every time I wear it, I’ll think of him. He’s smart. It worked.

Silverton, Colorado, reminds me of Dawson City, Yukon. It’s a contrived-looking western movie set with wide dirt roads and old mining town brothels surrounded by mountains mid-way between Ouray and Durango on the Million Dollar Highway. Yet, at first glance, nobody here seems to be trying too hard to attract tourism. It has a nice “we don’t really care if you come or not” attitude and the locals seem to love it for its remote and rugged beauty. The girl at the hostel invited me to the grand re-opening of Avalanche Coffee down the street, which, she said, was not just a place to get a cup of java, but a “center for revolution.” I passed, but perhaps I’ll stop in for some local politics and a soy latte in the morning before pushing over the last mountain pass to New Mexico. I saw snow on the road today on McLure Pass at ten thousand feet, so I won’t be leaving tomorrow much before noon.

I was all packed up and leathered up and ready to leave Glenwood Springs yesterday when a freak storm came raging through the canyon, thrusting sheets of rain over the river and threatening to down Henk, parked beside it, with gale force winds. I’m not surprised. It’s been stormy inside. The last three weeks have felt like a lifetime of sunshine and Sundays and I didn’t want to leave. “What day is it today?” Brett would ask every day with his Cheshire cat grin. And every day, he would shout enthusiastically, like a kid who just realized Christmas Eve is only one sleep away, “It’s Sunday!” And he would go about his day spreading holiday cheer. Every minute with Dog and Dude was a blast. He walks around Glenwood like he’s mayor, talking to absolutely everyone in his path, joking, delivering smiles, collecting votes. He got mine. He started signing his emails to friends “D & D (&M)” as though seemlessly (if tentatively) making me a member of the team. He joked about taking me to Vegas—not to play poker—and I was shocked that even just as a joke, just entertaining the thought for an instant, a pleasurable chemical reaction arose in that irrational and muddled communication channel between that wide open space that used to be my heart and that vacant cavity that used to be my brain. He always jokes. And he claims that every joke is based in truth.

Brett and Ling and I have covered some ground together, geographical and emotional. The two of them have been such a delightful surprise in so many ways. Perhaps it was the landscape that blew my heart open, but it was Brett and Ling who came to play, bringing with them so much light and laughter. We took three days to say goodbye. I tried being skillful, but it was Brett who showed all the grace. “This is no time for tears,” he said sweetly, drying my cheek with his thumb. “You’re either going to find out that this guy is everything you’ve ever wanted, in which case you should be very happy.” He smiled and lifted my chin, meeting my eyes. “And you will always have great friends Dog and Dude.” More tears. He dried them on his shirt. “Or you won’t feel anything,” he continued, “in which case, you get your ass back up here and you and I get to continue on with the adventure.”

He’s right. It’s stupid to cry. Every woman should have my problems.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

It doesn't get any stranger than this. It's as though the planet now has three equally powerful poles, each charged highly positive, and I am sitting still with my arms wrapped around the dog named Ling trying to prevent implosion, trying to hold my negative center intact. Worlds are about to converge and collide in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, where Doc Holiday used to soak his bullet wounds in the healing mineral waters. And to lend his own interpretation, Van Morrison's co-incidentally singing about feelin' stranded on his own little island with his eyes wide open. The radio station here is fantastic.

"What are your plans?" he asked me. I have none. I am free. I have absolutely nowhere to go, nowhere to be, no-one to see, no-one to be, in fact, perhaps I've become nothing. Is that possible? I've become nothing. Yes, then I am free. "I was joyously hopeful you might be available to accompany me back to Santa Fe," he said. So much for freedom. I've brilliantly restricted that by falling in love with the dog named Ling. And what the hell are you doing in Glenwood Springs, anyway?! As always, he's vague as ever. "Wanted to get out for a ride. Been wanting to all summer. Haven't had a chance til now. Telluride is beautiful, by the way." No kidding.

I'm supposed to sleep tonight knowing that "the man who rocks my world," as Brett empty-guttedly calls him, is ten minutes down the hill somewhere nibbling on fajitas, wondering what I'm doing for the rest of my life.

I'm in a dangerous place. Another crossroads--this time no time for reaction. Part of me wants to call Ron and scream from the mountaintops, as he said I'd need to do if I wanted to come "home," even though another part of me knows that place no longer exists, even though I dearly miss my life in Toronto. Part of me wants to fall in love with Brett and Ling. In two weeks I've discovered it would be easy to do. Very easy... My newly blasted open heart, though, tells me I need to dive in to what's occupied it for the last five years. What's prevented it from loving fully and from giving everything. If it turns out that he is, indeed, the love of my life, I have nothing to lose. If it turns out that it was all an illusion, I have nothing to lose.

The sun just set over Spring Valley turning the sage lavender and Mt. Sopris grape. I have been given the companionship of the dog named Ling and a skinny old black cat named Shadow for the weekend while their owners road trip to Denver for a beer festival. My coffee mug is full of “crisp white wine” from a five-liter box in the fridge and I just had a curried tofu and mango sandwich for dinner from the health food store in town. Henk is parked outside in the woody sage taking in the delicious scent. He’ll be happy to have his signal lights fixed tomorrow because riding through the canyon back from Aspen after dark with no signals is no fun. But riding through Woody Creek, then over Independence Pass in the shimmering golden aspens is.

I’ve been craving some time alone to digest the last couple of weeks of surprises and gifts and beautiful visions and unexpected turns and tears. Two weeks has somehow stretched into a luxurious elastic timeless state of being and I’ve had my heart emptied and filled and emptied and filled like a warm infinite tide. Each day seems to only get better, each sunset, impossibly, more beautiful. I’m living patterns and having breakthroughs followed by breakdowns followed by breakthroughs.

I had the dog named Ling alone for an entire day last week up at Bill’s round house in the hills. He’s become my new favorite person and we played and ran in the scrub and rolled in cow dung and stretched in the Colorado sun and meditated and drooled and wrote, and I thought wouldn’t it be nice next time to love deeply, to have a dog and stick around to feel it all and give it all and not run away, wisely and freely and unconditionally loving, and granting the same in return. I didn’t quite wish it; I just thought it for a minute the same way I’d think wouldn’t it be nice to have world peace…

Whenever I have a thought like that, I’m eight years old in Holland, being impacted for the first time by my grandparents’ relationship. They lived for each other. The first thought on my grandfather’s mind in the morning was what could he do for my grandmother to make her day easier or a little bit nicer. Everything Lucy did, she did for Henk. His happiness was hers and hers, his. I didn’t know the depth of what I was witnessing at that age, but I knew Grandma and Granddad were always a joy to be around. It was pure and sweet and maybe ruined me for life.

I’ve fallen in love at first sight twice. The first time was eight years ago when the man to whom I was married was picking up his brand new Road King at Heritage Harley Davidson in Edmonton. Henk and I saw each other from across the showroom through rows of gleaming chrome and glistening paint, and instantly knew: I was for him and he was for me. I had no fear attached to attachment. I took a photo back to my restaurant and taped it to my fridge for motivation. Within weeks I’d sold enough black bean chili and spicy peanut stir-fry to make a down payment. It didn’t matter that I had to scramble for a few years to pay my rent or pay the produce supplier. Henk and I were meant to be, and nothing was going to stop fate from unfolding her silver hand. It was uncomplicated. It still is. We understand each other and have a deep mutual respect that comes from shared experience.

The second time was with a human being, although I often wonder if he might be divine. We saw each other through a pane of glass reflecting California sunshine and ancient cryptic code. I was scared and afraid and disbelieving and awed and ultimately wretched. But it was instant and I knew: I was for him and he was for me. So I ran. I didn’t even take a photo. It was complicated. It still is. And too sacred for words. We have a deep mutual love that comes from knowing something profound took place the moment we became aware of each other’s existence. And we both had to let go. It’s been five years.

Somehow, though, despite my running, despite my riding, despite my ignorance and arrogance and blindness, fate manages to contort lines of latitude and longitude underfoot, twisting every meandering road I’ve never followed toward one inevitable essential destination. I almost needn’t open my eyes.

So when I find myself in the geographical vicinity of this divine human being, unexpectedly falling for a dog named Ling and his owner, after asking all the questions, is it just the landscape, is it just the Colorado sunshine, is it just the timing, is it just the hot springs or the underground vapor caves, is it just transferal of affection, am I just vulnerable, am I just dependent, is it just his razor-sharp wit or his easy charm or his perpetually sunny outlook or his freckles or his passion or his generosity of spirit or his unruly red curls or his sexy red motorbike, or is it just the damn dog, the lover dog named Ling Ling, the only thing after asking all the questions that makes any sense, any sense at all, is that the key to world peace, without a doubt in my mind, is just a thought away. Wouldn’t it be nice.