Leaving San Diego on my motorcycle this morning felt different than with other trips. The 5+ plus weeks that Sash and I spent here since returning from the 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally left a profound effect on me.
I'm now on a one-week solo trip that'll take me into Yosemite National Park and back. Meanwhile, Sash is on a motorcycle trip to Bakersfield where she'll pick up her daughter and spend a few days bonding with her in San Francisco. Afterwards, Sash and I will reconnect somewhere in the LA area before returning to San Diego.
Since we started this motorcycle vagabond lifestyle 2 1/2 years ago, we've become different people. What we initially dubbed, "Road Pickle" has not only changed our perspective, but also changed our relationship.
That's what Road Pickle was all about in the first place, changing your outlook on life by taking a long road trip. This is the actual definition I published on the Road Pickle website...
[rohd pik-uhl] noun, verb
1. a motorcycle road trip so profound and/or comprehensive, that it changes your perspective of yourself, others, the world, or life itself. (eg: “I’m quitting my job, moving out of the apartment, and doing a road pickle this summer.”)
2. the act of embarking on a road pickle. (eg: “We’re going to road pickle all summer long and reassess ourselves.”)
How are we now different?
I think from here on out, Sash and I will put more focus on pursuing individual endeavors. We've agreed to find a permanent home in San Diego and use it as a base to launch our personal goals.
For one, I want to do more long-distance riding. I want to pare down my belongings and see how bare I can get and still get by sufficiently. I want to spend more time writing fiction. I know that Sash wants to become more self-sufficient, and has already put herself into a better position to do that. She's also started to surround herself with a network of trusted friends to give her the emotional feeding she needs. Consequently, what she's doing will free me up to do these solo trips.
Spending more time apart is something we realize we need to do. Since we first met, we've spent almost all of our time together. And riding across the country together gets us cooped up in hotel rooms, cabins, and vacation rentals. We start stepping on each other's emotional baggage, mostly without knowing it, and next thing we know, we're blindsided into a fight.
What Road Pickle has done is expose all this baggage. And since Sash and I still deeply care for each other, we naturally want to help each other. That's why we're doing this.
In effect, Road Pickle has improved our relationship.
Several months ago, I watched this documentary called, "Jiro Dreams of Sushi", and found that it offered a profound message. The piece is about a famous itamae (sushi chef) named Jiro Ono. Jiro owns a very tiny sushi bar in Tokyo. In the documentary, Jiro is 85 years old. His oldest son, Yoshikazu works for him as an apprentice, and expects to one day inherit his father's bar.
The message is that to master the art of something, you have to break it down into very small elements, and master each element. Each element is not small, nor insignificant, but rather complex.
Yoshikazu started his apprenticeship washing dishes, and focused solely on washing dishes for many years. Because his father believes that dishes add a significant component to the fine art of sushi, it was an important element to master. There was a particular process of scrubbing, a certain water temperature, specific soap, and a process of rinsing and drying. The dishes had to have the right amount of shine, reflection, and surface tension.
After his son mastered dish washing, he was allowed to wash the rice, which he also did for several years as well. Once he mastered that, he was allowed to cook the rice. In the documentary, Yoshikazu is 50 years old, and still hadn't progressed to making sushi yet.
For the Japanese, honor is everything. No sushi master wants to have to bow his head in disgrace because he forgot to make sure the rice was perfect.
But for the sake of this article, stripping something down into its basic elements is a way to tackle a problem in a structured process so that even idiots can eventually master it. It's like saying the sure fire way to find your way out of a maze is to put your hand on a wall and keep walking without losing touch. It's basic, rudimentary, certainly overkill, but always guaranteed. And if you do it enough times, you'll learn the variables and subtle nuances that lets you take shortcuts.
Somehow, stripping myself of belongings and doing these solo road trips, I feel as if I'm doing just that. I think it stems from this philosophy of mine that even if I lose everything, I still have myself. And as long as I have myself, I have everything I need.