Sometimes it's not so much the choices we have before us, but the lack thereof. Halfway between the novelty of exploring new paths and the banality of one road after another, the struggle to define one's self is often elusive as the mirage of water on a hot desert highway.
I pass by other travelers along the same journey, perhaps also in search of their souls, or just marveling at the wonders revealed at every turn. They're seemingly uninterested in the urgency of the matter, perhaps feeling safe in the confines of their cages, or priding themselves over the fuel economy of their hybrids. Time seems to be on their side.
The whistling of the wind dies down to a low, buffeted rumble as I lowered my head down behind the windshield. The roar of the ST's V4 motor increases in pitch as my fingers bite down on the throttle. The rush of anticipation sweeps through my body like cresting the climb of an old wooden rollercoaster, and then all I see before me are miles of twisting road snaking down towards the desert floor and a blur of painted lines guiding my way.
The painted lines; they're all I need to see. They're all that I trust. They're all that matters at this point.
While riding through a city, one becomes overwhelmed with choices, so many roads intersecting one another, presenting so many choices, so many journeys, and so many distractions along the way. But in the vast expanse nothing, when all you have is one single road to deliver you from the wilderness, there's no longer a need to choose.
You just follow.
And there's so much release in submitting yourself to something else. Placing all your trust into a slab of asphalt that stretches into a wasteland of hot, dry, landscape devoid of water, food, and shelter, fraught with the dangers of the wild, with all the fears of the unknown, and know that somewhere, somehow, sometime, you'll be delivered to a safe place, creates a sense of spirituality.
You have faith in the road, faith in your motorcycle, and faith in yourself.
The three fuse together into one, a blending of body, machine, and the elements. The heat of the desert sun, the ping of a beetle bouncing off my visor, the scent of sagebrush, and the crosswinds pushing my motorcycle at an angle, all creates a soup that I cut through like a hot knife. One stretch of mile after another, bringing up a slightly different set of elements, offers up a new recipe for the senses that I pierce through and consume.
It's like gobbling up a bounty of low-hanging fruit, one tree after another, for as long as the road will take me.
And when the road comes to an end, I bask in the safety of civilization, an urban respite of gas stations, taco shops, and cellphone coverage in between stretches of solitude and wilderness.
From thereafter it's more road, and more respite. More road, and more respite.
Yet even after hundreds of miles later, the road keeps me safely tethered to my home, and always connected to my origins. As long as the pathway back is always there, and my motorcycle always with me, it somehow feels like I've never completely let go. It's like venturing off into the deep end while still holding on to the side of the pool.
We may never define ourselves until we eliminate all of our comforts, strip away all that protects us, and leave ourselves to our own devices.
But the road to self discovery is not so much about finding what's there, it's creating something from the journey. Following a road you've never been on is really about following your intuition, and having faith that you're destined for something. Yet it's not in the destination where you've come to define yourself, it's when you've returned home to realize you're a changed person.