Duct tape and a bungee worked fine; the bad language was un-necessary

Duct tape and a bungee worked fine; the bad language was un-necessary

There’s a lot to learn about physics when you’re riding a motorcycle, and even more to learn if you plan to pack things on your bike, like camping gear.

Packing on the limited real estate of a motorcycle frame is something that took me about 6000 miles and three falls to learn during my 2011 road trip. And in the process of learning about that, I did some soul searching about love.

It’s all about the center of gravity

Whether taking a curve or parking your bike, a motorcyclist has to think about gravity and physics. You can’t expect to prevail over gravity by piling everything on the seat behind you, because that raises the center of gravity, making it more likely to tip over. Pack low, and close as possible to the bike frame.

Before the end of the first week on my first cross-country camping trip, my bike tipped over twice. One of those falls snapped off one side of my windshield, which brought out  the duct tape and bungee cords (and a little bit of bad language).

A friend in Texas helped me repack, I got a new windshield, and set out on my way. The new packing arrangement worked great.

Until it didn’t.

Saskatchewan winds and a kindly customs officer

Taken a second before the wind blew my bike over

Taken a second before the wind blew my bike over

Crossing into Saskatchewan, I did everything wrong. I not only parked broadside to strong winds, I also did so on a downward slope. You can see that in this photo, which was taken a mere second before a gust of wind blew my bike over. This time the fall broke a blinker lens in addition to cracking my week-old replacement windshield.

Ah, gravity, you’re consistent, I’ll give you that.

I trudged back to the Torquay customs station where I had crossed from North Dakota and relinquished my pepper spray just moments earlier (a minor digression here, why does Canada allow bear spray but not pepper spray?). The customs officer was very kind, agreeing that the winds that day, which were steady at 40mph and gusting into the 50’s, were tough on motorcycles. He helped me right the bike, spotted me as I mounted and waved as I headed north.

What’s love got to do with physics?

There are other laws at work in the universe besides physics. The prophets and mystics have been trying to teach us about love for centuries, and yet we know more about gravity. Sad.

I love this quote by Catholic priest and paleontologist/geologist Teilhard de Chardin: “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”

I will confess here that I usually try everything EXCEPT love when I’m trying to address a problem in my life. I recall times when my children stepped out of bounds and I tried to punish them with the silent treatment or withholding privileges or any number of non-loving tactics. Every parent has regrets, and I didn’t save those tactics just for my children. If you’ve felt the sting of my silent treatment or my Medusa stare, I hope you will forgive me.

There’s still time to learn to harness the power of love today–and tomorrow if we live to see it. How about applying the energies of love to a situation you’re facing today? I’d love to hear how it works for you.


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