Living Yes, A Handbook for Being Human, published by Amirh Voice, 2015
www.LivingYes.org

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Here is a short story.
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MY LAST RIDE

There is an experience of power in being seen with an adoring and beautiful woman.  Its’ a way of rebutting past rejections which stem from one’s social and sexual inadequacies.  This is a lie, of course, a total falsehood.  But when Ellen and I “lambada’d” our bodies through two rows of fellow trainees, I reveled in the admiration of thirty men and the jealousy of thirty women.  Or did I? 

******* 

Moments after the sun first lit the earth to complete my fortieth year, I had a limiting lifeshock:  rain.  Tomorrow looks like a wet and dangerous ride to Knoxville, Tennessee for me an my two-wheeler  (DK, don’t know; the future is unknowable.)  Breathe.  The fear proves unwarranted I give bike rides to my friends in the midday sun.  I’ve said good by to everybody but Ellen as the BMW pushes the pavement on our way through the smoky mountains, home in four hours. 
Ellen is what most red-blooded American males would call a “babe.”  (DK, don’t know)  Tan, tall and lean (T, true), wholesome face (T), Ellen made good money on the tennis circuit and even more as a swim wear model.  She quit to go to architecture school.  Ellen is not really my physical type (F, false).  She’s not pretty enough (F) or dainty enough (F), and besides, she’s married to Peter (T), so it’s really not an issue (F). 

Full of wonder, I head East to Dahlonega, my eyes moist with feelings of gratitude, love and joy.  My head spins with new visions, allowing and watching how life delivers her lessons both in the here and now of breath and in the inspiration of memory. My weeklong training has provided me tools of discernment and recognition of my own consciousness.  I have discovered my authenticity, my love-ability and my humanity.  I am a tiger preparing to ride the dragon. 
As I turn north toward Blairsville, Georgia, a flash of intuition.  Check the tires.  But I'm too excited to stop.  I yell out the line with which Jim Carrey sold
The Mask:  "Somebody stop me!" and ride.  True to my intuition, I pull over.  They look fine.  Breathe in the clean air of the winding green as the gentle breeze brushes across my body; an odd coolness; moisture on my face shield.  The rain is beautiful and I am capable.  "Yes!"  I turn to the right, and the universe provides me a tree-protected patch in which I may don my slicker and feel the exquisite rain as it falls around me.

Ellen is a very intelligent woman (T) but has questionable sense (DK).  She made it all the way through the University of Michigan and completed almost three years of her architecture apprenticeship.  Then, with two weeks to go before qualifying for the license exam, she crapped out.  (F – she quit.)  I first met Ellen a year and a month ago during the first training, which prepared me for this week.  She seemed to be a manipulative, spoiled girl who always got whatever she wanted (F), and she needed to learn to recognize the reality that the rest of us already lived in (DK).
At peace, I ride slowly, checking out the slippery asphalt with my right foot, fully prepared to do this for the next eight hours; I am centered.  Life may offer me what she wishes, and she does.  A waterfall empties itself from above.  My jeans are drenched; my socks are drenched; and the shirt below my slicker is absorbing cold wind and water at a chilling pace.  Say "YES!"   Enjoy the discomfort of the sticky cotton.  I am willing to ride in this rain for twelve hours.  I'm entering the brave new world as a brave new warrior. 

I pass four bicyclists and rest until they again pass me.  I feel more kinship with these riders with whom I share the clean air than I do with drivers who are hidden inside their environmentally controlled cages.  The rain stops.  The road is dry.  The earth is parched.  The sun beats down.  I remove my slicker and flow through the warmth of evaporation consciousness.  Murphy, North Carolina, at the junction of 64 and 129 on this sunny Sunday afternoon is a beehive of commerce.  I notice a shop called "Grandma's Herbal" and wait patiently for a dozen cars to pass before I turn to the left.  I dismount and carry my helmet. 

Ellen had appeared in Knoxville and was assigned to my crew in a training, and pretty much ignored her (F).  I’ve been told this is the stud’s secret to attract the best looking girls.  By the end of the weekend, she was practically indignant (DK), following me wherever I went (F).  Just to see if my scheme had worked (F), I invited her to stay with me that night (T). 

The proprietor of “Grandma’s Herbal” is a plain woman with soft blue eyes and curly red hair who says, "nice day for a ride."  My head is totally blissing. 
"Yes."  I am chemically altered, but the source is internal. 

"May I help you?" she asks perfunctorily.
"What do you sell?"
"What's wrong with you?"
"Nothing," I answer immediately.  I notice her eyes slide off; perhaps she's afraid of me.  Breathe.
"Who are you?" she asks.

"Bryan."  I allow for the intensity to dissipate and ask for her name.  I select some sprouting beans and a sassafras concentrate and closely examine some of the herbal formulas.  Above a literature rack is a notice, "Warnings in Scripture - Regarding the Philosophies of the World."  Still on an emotional precipice, I resonate in confusion at the first words of the first verse of the first of David's Psalms.

        Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the
         ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in
         the seat of the scornful.

Sinners can be what sinners are.  I have no pretense of what anyone should be, no love to withhold, or an iota of omnipotence in this glorious world, so I won't stand in anyone's way.  (I recognize that I've strayed from the original text here, but that's my choice and I make it consciously.)

Mary learned her herbal craft from her now-deceased mother.  Mary blames her mother's death on the U.S. government because the FDA wouldn't allow the herbal cure that would have saved her mother’s life to be made available.  Mary appears to hold a lot of resentment about this.  Mary believes that there are many false paths to Jesus Christ, so she chooses not to follow a preacher.  She blesses me with "little red angels" to protect me on my journey.  Outside, I change my socks by the side of the road and head northeast towards rocky top Tennessee.

I lit a fire.  Ellen and I talked for some hours.  Well, actually, she talked and I guided her to reveal herself (DK).  Maybe, I helped her say what she wanted to say.  I learned that her commitment toward her new marriage was waning, and there would be no sex between her and me that night (DK) or any night (DK).
A few months later, Ellen called and asked if she and Peter could stay over for one night.  I wanted to meet the poor “doofus” anyway (F).  After that, neither of us took any initiative to nurture the friendship (DK).  Since she and Peter had used my house, it was naturally her obligation to call me first (F).

I ascend 129 to Deal's Gap where sport bikes buzz like hornets.  I gas it up and buy a long sleeved t-shirt.  The front shows a red-helmeted warrior in front of his bike, holding his golden lance upright with two red streamers waving.  Behind him lies the vanquished dragon.  The copy reads:  "I slew the Deal's Gap Dragon! 318 curves in 11 miles."  On the reverse rests the image of a self-satisfied dragon with motorcycle parts askew and reads: "At Deal's Gap, Sometimes the Dragon Wins."  I sport the fresh shirt and cautiously begin winding my way homeward. 

I roll left and right, drifting down the hill.  The road is dry; the air is clean; the sun reflects off the long sleeves of my white shirt.  Early in the week, Ellen had stepped forward, accusing me of distancing myself from her.  Ellen was right.  I had been closed off from her because she’s so pretty.  So I said "yes", and when I looked at her, I saw her.  We hadn't had much time to talk, but we had grounded our friendship.

Now, on this last day, as everyone was saying teary goodbyes, she invited me to share breakfast with her.  I was very happy for the opportunity to verify where we stood and to explore our common purpose.  But when one hundred people say goodbye in two hours, things became anarchical, and we agreed to hang out later because neither of us was leaving imminently.  To honor this commitment, I kept acutely aware of Ellen's whereabouts as I connected with many of my newfound friends.  By midday sun, very few of us remained.  I went up to Roger's room to say goodbye to Ellen.  The door was closed.  I knocked. 

A pause.  Some shuffling.  Roger's voice:  "who's there?" 
“Bryan.”
"This isn't a really good time."
"I just wanted to say I'm leaving."‘
"So long, good buddy."
"Would you please tell Ellen I'm leaving?"  Another pause.
"Will do."

Breathe.  As I turn to the left, the bike shoots out from under me and I slide on the pavement.  Say "yes!  "  Life is as it is.  I stand up to take account.  I am at the base of a hill, half way through a 270-degree turn.  Like the 129-cent helmet sticker says, “I surfed 129.”   I notice pain at the left knee, right wrist, left elbow; my gloves and jeans are torn.  I rotate my wrist; it seems okay.  Accept the moment.  Breathe.  Say "yes" to this lesson of the universe.  My accusing Ellen or being jealous of Roger can help no one.  Life is what life is. Breathe. 

Men from two different cars appear in support of me.  The bike lies five feet below me with gas running out of the tank and the fairing bent over.  Ascertaining that I am okay, they descend and, with a force of will, roll the bike straight out of the ditch and up on to the pavement.

My role is to carry their doubts forward with my optimism.  And to breathe.

"You
were driving slowly."  They help me get the bike rideable.  "It could have been a single rock," says Tony.  I acknowledge each of them for his support, enjoying Tony's 18 month old and providing some local directions.  He and I jerry rig with bungee cords; he is incredibly creative.  We remove the fairing, and he suggests we leave it by the side of the road as a warning to others.  I support the idea, suggesting he place it more visibly. 

Now I am alone, gathering myself, feeling physical pain, noticing that the lesson of the bike is similar to my experience with Ellen.  No matter what I may project about how she should be, Ellen is responsible and able to run her own life as she chooses.  Life is as it is, not as I pretend it is supposed to be.  Breathe.

My knee hurts and my right hand can barely grip as I struggle to turn the bike around.  Another man appears, helps, accepts his acknowledgement.  The mirrors are cracked and floppy.  I can barely turn the throttle. 

I make the decision at this moment.  This is my last ride.  My reason is clear and with purpose -- I have a vision to offer this world and an intention to deliver it broadly and deeply.  It is irresponsible of me to risk my physical vessel and in turn risk depriving others of my gifts.  I won’t frivolously discard my life.  The dragon is slain.  Resonance.  Synchronicity.  Universal gifts.  And here's a bonus:  after I repair the bike, I'll have enough money for next year's training!

I intend to support Ellen as she wishes (T).  Even if she chooses to meet Roger and cheat on Peter, I make no judgment any more (T).  I don’t need to seek power from outside (T).  The admiration of thirty men and the jealousy (!) of thirty women comes from who I am, not with whom I dance (T), and I am both authentic and loveable (T).

As I journey on my last ride, I feel exhilarated and grateful that my head and bones are intact.  Enjoying the smell of the earth, the rush of the warm air, the spirit of the road for the last time, I acknowledge the Source of Mary's angels.

 (c) 1996 Mark Morris