Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Fractured Reflection on Riding Within One's Self

Okay. I am going to briefly consider some new bike tech. But ultimately, I am going to make a point that is more spiritual than technological.

Let us limit our domain, for a moment, to sport bikes. These are machines that are made to go fast. Faster, in fact, than  90 percent of sport bike owners can take them into straights as well as turns. But in addition to speed, they have other characteristics that distinguish them from each other, for better or worse. These differences can be quite subtle, only discernible by those who have sensitive tastes. They can also be quite categorical, like the difference between fifty foot pounds of torque and a hundred. For a prospective sport bike rider, this diversity makes for a beautiful if overwhelming world. 

Still, one can unify this diversity under one banner: they are all bikes that do what you tell them to do. But a new type of bike has finally arrived and it requires us to reconsider some things.

The advent of traction control and anti-locking braking systems have changed bikes in an interesting way. Such bikes no longer do what we tell them. If we ask for full throttle, they might give us less than full throttle. If we ask for all the brakes in the world, the bike will cut that request back by a crucial degree. Certainly, it is still important to our well-being and our racing line that we take care with our steering inputs. But the other mind, the one tucked away in servos and circuit boards, is there to filter our movements, to augment our performance. It has been this way with our cars for many years. But now is the rise of the machines for motorcycles and we would do well to reflect on this.

I think it is sensible to think that one is not riding alone when one rides such a bike. It is easy to see this as the sea change, the point after which nothing will be the same again. I can dig this perspective and I don’t mind it. But I feel that this moto-discourse is always painted with broad strokes and I want us to adopt a different vantage point. 

Instead of seeing the computer revolution as a maligned or welcomed revolution in motorcycling, one that takes away from or gives life to our favorite activity, look at it as merely one option among many. In other words, think of all the bikes out there as potential answers to the question: what kind of rider do I want to be? 

Debates over bike technology tend to start with racing and then somehow be superimposed on the majority of the motorcycling public. But those guys aren’t like us. The vagaries of traction control, engine mapping or even fuel injection mean something fundamentally different to Spies and Hayden than they do to us. They ride to win at all costs. They will lose weight, get surgery, isolate themselves from their friends. We go to work, ride on the weekends, do an occasional track day. We can’t think that their debates are ours or that the curve of their development is imperative to our moto lives. The question that I pose—what kind of rider do I want to be?—is intended to bring us down to our own levels.

The ‘04 zx-10 is fucking nuts. The ‘06 CBR 600 is butta smooth. The ‘09 R1 exhaust note is a straight eargasm. Do you want to exercise incredible restraint for most of your time on the road? Do you want to ride with more abandon and not worry too much about certain consequences? Do you want to be lulled into the machine by its mechanical noise? Take away the pressures of your friends or your immediate riding community. How does this sound to you then? Consider the option of traction control? Do you want to be fast from your own hand or would you like your bike to make decisions for the both of you? Do you want to be faster than everyone else or does your need for speed transcend the desire to weigh yourself against others? 

If we think like this, it matters much less whether the next man has trick parts or if his bike is decked out with a funny crankshaft or a computer that can think faster than he can feel. We should ride our own rides, according to our own internally developed expectations. I feel like if we do this, if we start from more private and reflective desires, we will crash less. This is mostly a hunch, but I think that riding within ones private desires will keep us cool, much more so than living up to a public demand to be faster or louder. But more importantly, I think divorcing ourselves from capitalist cycles of development and the hype of the racing world will open new vistas of enjoyment, new possibilities of experience. 

I am tired of people saying to me, “is your bike really fast?” or “I don’t like 600s because they're too slow.” or a million variations on a tired theme. I would much rather hear someone speak on the musical mix of wind and exhaust noise, or the odd comfort that accompanies the constant worry that there will be headshake under acceleration, or the perfection of the seating position. Let us abandon the pursuit of pure speed and look deeper for the song that has been faintly playing for as long as we have been riding. 

I speak on this because it is a small world and the “long tail” of moto desires can be granted with no trouble. Also, I am tired of rolling up on riders who open their mouths to talk about bikes and spit pure cliched boredom. Lastly, as I continue the journey of my own moto path, I see that it doesn’t resemble Robert Pirsig or Valentino Rossi or my riding friends. And the more I let my desires grow on their own, the more I discover about myself, for good or evil. 

It doesn’t hurt that such reflection also makes me faster. Heh. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Riders in the Storm: Chapter Three

The Story of a Lost Love. Part One.

The people of the pub continued to speak and drink, though in the darkness of the power outage each clanked glass and raised voice seemed more percussive. In the dark the tavern suddenly seemed hollow, like a wooden barrel cast over a waterfall. Wielding flashlights, the wait staff carefully made their rounds. Even if the world had stopped, the alcohol would still flow. 

In the corner, the riders sat listening to the clamor. A windup radio on the bar offered familiar news. The storm was not yet done and its rage had cut power to many districts in its path. There was nothing to do but wait. 

In the corner two riders sat quietly while another went outside to check on the bikes. He returned drenched and was handed a towel and a cold bottle when he sat down. Together the men drank and waited for the beginning of the next story.

In the dark, they could not see the expression on the face of the man with the green helmet. In the dark they could not feel the weight of a story that he had never told. But an untold tale is a burden on every heart and before long the silence at the biker’s table was broken.

“If the devil isn’t real then I don’t know who I sold my soul to. All I know is forty miles was the distance I had to travel to get it back.” The rider with the green helmet paused, unsure of how to start a deeply personal tale. He began again.

“Not everyone knows the moment when they fell from grace. It is hard enough to know what path you are on at all, much less the circumstances that caused you to stray. Moments that seem to have no connection when you’re living through them form a terrible pattern through the lens of retrospection.” 

The men at the table listened as the man with the green helmet told them about a woman. He met her long ago and spent a good stretch admiring her from afar. They were friends, but at his core of styles he knew that she would have a greater meaning in his life. Before long, they were together and had figured this to be the truth of their lives. He loved her.

The riders understood the importance of the call to love, but one of them wanted to know why he loved her so. What was it about her that quenched his desire for love? The rider with the green helmet explained that there are no real answers to such a question. People speak of the qualities of their beloved, of her eyes or her smile or her kindness. But qualities are not reasons. They are just what we have in the place of reasons. Even the divinely inspired Song of Solomon is a mere list of tired similes and metaphors that justify nothing. The man in love rambles platitudes that can never express the content of his love. For love cannot be explained nor can it be proved. 

The rider lived with his love for many years. When she slept, he watched her and cried. When she danced, he wondered how a single soul could brighten so much darkness. She was the only truth that he had ever known. But knowledge comes at a price. 

“People talk about how they are made for each other,” said the rider, “about how they are soul mates. This is blind stupid romanticism. No, the parts that compose our bikes were engineered to fit together, to work in unison. There is no such grand design for a human relationship. To be with someone is to constantly adjust yourself, to overcome your habits and revise your commitments. A refusal to change is a sentence to solitude. Yet changing too much can be your own personal defeat, or just a sign that your one and only has become one of many.”

So it was with he and his beloved. Given enough time, the slightest arc in a straight line can create a perfect circle. And the smallest flaw can develop into an opaque blemish, unnoticeable until it sediments and cannot be wiped away. The rider could no longer understand his life with his beloved and he broke it off and fled from her.  

“People say that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved. But only the people who survive the loss are able to say this. The dead and the dying know differently and if we could hear their lament the lyrics of a million songs and poems might be much different than what they are now.” 

The rider carried his moments into months. Into years into decades. He sought knowledge, success and adventure. He would not say of his life that it was a vanity of vanities or that he was striving after wind. He experienced joy and frustration. A life worthy of a work of art. But in the night, when the minds of men wander without care for consequences, he thought of her. And in those moments the vastness of years past seemed dull. He had never replaced her. He closed up a part of himself that could have no entrant but one and in doing so, he closed off all chances of happiness. But he always held out hope for the promise.

It was a claim made in love and resignation. Since people grow apart they can also grow back together. Perhaps when Saturn descends or when they each cross a great life milestone. He told her that he might come for her again one day. He wanted to know if she would accept him should such a day come. She said that yes, she would. The future was an open possibility and she would always be open to him. It was never too late to be at home.  

In the dark hours of his life, this was the only thought in which the rider with the green helmet took comfort. He and his bike travelled many roads, some of which were unmapped. But he never crossed a trail that wouldn’t lead back to her.

It was inevitable then, that their paths would cross once more. On a ride to a faraway place the rider encountered a mutual friend. She was surprised and happy to see him in a diner at the edge of nowhere. They spoke on the trivialities of history until they approached the only subject about which the rider cared. How was she doing? 

She told him that his old love was set to go away, perhaps a far away as a person can travel without going round the curve of Earth and coming back again. That she would be gone for many years if not forever. His old love had grown dissatisfied with her city and her life path, so she was starting a radical shift. 

He asked when it was that she was leaving; perhaps he could push past the awkwardness and disappointment to wish her well and reflect one last time on the joys of the past. He learned that her exit was immanent, that even now she was headed to a small airport in the next state. Her exodus from all she knew was not even two hours away.

The rider sat for a moment considering this news. From the third, any who saw him would say that he sat at the table of the diner for only a few minutes after his friend said her goodbyes. But on the inside, dawn had turned to twilight. At last he understood the meaning of what he had given up. He felt the weight of his foolishness and he remembered the promise. Then he grabbed his helmet. The airport was 40 miles away. 


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Skills. Skills on Toast.

Peep the throttle control.

You know, I think that with a bike like this one could learn how to push the front and back it in on tarmac without paying serious penalties for getting it wrong. (Though I suppose it depends on whether a broken collarbone counts as a serious penalty. Haha.) I don't think they sell them in the States, though.

Friday, November 12, 2010

True Words

Aphorisms, Reflections and Remembrances. Part Two.

Once upon a time a friend of mine sat in a theater waiting for a live performance to begin. He recounted this story: A person sitting up front had already seen the matinee and was asked by another theatergoer if the show was cultural. The woman responded that “some of it” was cultural. Some of the dance was cultural. I will learn a lot of stuff before I die, but I will never know what the hell that means.  
Survival is garbage. A syphilitic German has already pointed this out, but it can’t be repeated enough. To survive is to barely make it. To crawl from the wreckage of ruin and death with a mean limp, crippled for all of your days. Survival is better than destruction, but not by much. If anything is to truly count in a meaningless world, we have to step past survival and thrive. We have to prosper. If I am to exist on the edge of certain doom, let it be because I am surfing its wave, not because I am washed up on its raggedy shore.
There is nothing so varied than a human being’s need for personal space. Some live peacefully among brothers and sisters clustered together in a hut. And some will set out to sea during a storm for a brief moment of solitude. In our own space we explore the inner and escape the outer, a great necessity in modern and even premodern life. If I ever found myself behind bars I would request solitary confinement. And an mp3 player.
A lot of cats speak with a spirit of sincerity about their respect for U.S. Veterans and the sacrifices they made in service to the country. I’ll take a moment of silence for soldiers as well, but my reasons are far from patriotic. When I hear cats say things like “thank you for your service” or some such, I hear the nationalist metanarrative playing out and I know that it sticks for some people. But I have talked to cats who have served combat time in the military for reasons that had nothing to do with respect for God or Country. They just needed money or a stable job or life path in general. In the horror of battle they fought to help their friends and stay alive themselves, not to preserve an American way of life. They left the theatre of war scarred and vowed never to return. Yet the work they did netted the same results as the patriots beside whom they fought. I feel for all of these cats, but not because they answered some sacred call of duty. I feel for them because they endured great hardship and much suffering. The same way that I feel for anybody else who has marched a traumatic road. The cat sitting next to me on this plane may have had to bury his son. The waitress bussing my table might have been raped in cellar somewhere. If I knew the status, I would hold a holiday for their perseverance as well. But I don’t. I know only about the woman in that uniform, or the man with the bumper stickers on his car. So for them I stand aside in my own salutary status. Even though I have never been in favor of a war. Even though I don’t feel the ideology of patriotism one little bit. That’s how I roll on Veteran’s Day and I don’t think I am alone in this.
From a philosopher king: An inflexible truth, pursued single-mindedly through a complex world, is always in danger of changing, unnoticed, into a terrible error.
I don’t think any aspect of colonialism can be undone and this depresses me for reasons that lie deep beneath my surface. 
Babies can’t be trusted. Watch them closely.
Only one time in my life did I feel motivated to lock the doors of a car I was driving. In Manhattan we were stuck in traffic that was going nowhere. Even the intersection was blocked the fuck up. No hope. As we waited, a man dressed only in his underwear leapt into the street, ran up to the cab in front of us and urgently tried to open the driver side door, freaking out the cabbie. It didn’t open, so the guy moved to a parked vehicle behind him. The next car on this trajectory was the one I was in. Yeah. Then I realized that while I knew where the buttons were, I didn’t know which button locked and which unlocked. In the dark of night, I couldn’t make out the icons on the button so I pressed each one trying to decipher the noise of the locking mechanism. I was saved by a break in traffic. Further down the street, a cop walking on patrol pulled out his baton and began running toward the mad man in his undies. This and the time I was denied entrance to a club are the reasons I don’t hit up Manhattan too often. 
From a Silver herald: If sacred places are spared the ravages of war, then make all places sacred. And if the holy people are to be kept harmless from war, then make all people holy.
It occurs to me that I have a strange notion of the permissibility of violence and vandalism. Suppose I was the commanding officer on a submarine carrying the ultimate payload in hydrogen bombs. Suppose furthermore that some enemy aggressor fired upon my country and reduced it entirely into ash. Though I had the dark materials of revenge, I would not fire back. For my country had already been destroyed. There wouldn’t really be anything left to defend and retaliatory action would do nothing but needlessly waste innocent life. However, suppose a dude is blocking a lady's parking space with his own vehicle and she asks him to pull up a bit so she can get out. Suppose that in response, he gets into his car and doesn’t turn it on, but instead starts blowing kisses at the girl in a flagrant display of his misogyny. I think it would be okay to pull this guy out of his car and hit him with a brick. 
From the Dancer: It's not that I'm trying to play down my strengths. I'm just playing up my weaknesses.
Out riding one day I once ran over a dead skunk. Despite my washing it, my bike smelled properly rank for three days. My swerving skills are now off the charts. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Beneath the Surface

There were no headphones in the helmet when I was out on the road. But the mind is a mixing board and there was one song that kept playing over and over again.

Scratch underneath the surface
Where does your purpose lie?
It seems our will is worthless
Like we're pawns beneath the sky
Schemes erased by reason
And passion's just the wind
Feel empty so I breathe in
Keep myself from Giving in

Love and hatred
Moments most sacred
Most species, they lay naked
in the tombs of an oasis
I think back on niggas I ate with
Spent the day with
Guns we played with
Niggas I relate with
We broke bread
I heard through the vine niggas worked for the feds
Sent out secretly to take my head
I lay back and meditate to the words they said
Skipped town for a month and grew some dreads
Had a friend tell my family I was dead
Returned at the last fall of the autumn leaves
Operate the plan accordingly
In case the feds are recording me
Sign all documents using forgery
'Cause just the mere thought of me
I'm like Solomon, spoke bluntly
Told the world I'm black and comely
Hounds from the grave haunt me
The smell of death's upon me
I dwell in the hills like Gandhi
Been in the presence of mad peasants
And old kings who sold everything
On a quest for God's divine
Slept in a cave to get a clear mind
Who prayed three times
When the moon lit and in the sunrise
I met dwellers in the deserts
Talked to shepherds
Been in the mouth of many leopards
Felt the death kiss of Satan's mistress
Walked through vacant districts of foreign religions
Studied pagan scriptures
True philosophers and physicians
On a cure mission
Who hardened their hearts
Toward the weak, sick and afflicted
Candles lit, gambled with a bitch
Who made me love her when I touched her
Soft paws hide claws
Bees with sweet honey in their mouths
Have bitter stingers at their tails
Walk through the chamber of death
Take a hold on to hell
Embracing her was like embracing the third rail

-Killah Priest

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Trip

I kiss the baby and set off in the cold new york air. The weather has already put me off the road for an hour and now I am determined to hit the highway though the temp is lower than I find tolerable. Beneath my suit, a heat pack is gathering warmth. I wonder if it will be enough to see me through this. Once I pass Staten Island the patchy road quality becomes a bit smooth and I can ride the Atlas with more ease. There is a bit of traffic on the Jersey Turnpike, but I cut through it. I can't believe I am doing this. I have wanted to rock a serious trip for a long time now and finally it is happening. I don't know exactly what the road holds for me, but I will meet it at proper supra-highway speeds.  

For the most part, human beings should fear winter. Human beings from the south, like myself, have learned to despise it. But the trees. In preparation for the coming freeze, they shed their leaves. And in preparation for that, they turn. Brilliant colors. Orange, yellow, bright red. I have spent a life in a land of evergreens. The visions on the roadside to me are not basic periphery. They are an enchanted world. Too bad I have to keep my eyes on the road. 

I rock a bridge or two and before I know it, I am in Delaware. On just the inside of the state line I am cut off by a crapload of cars. I always try to ride as though I am invisible, so that I don't force motorists to make moves they wouldn't normally make. But in moderately jammed traffic, I can't rock those moves. Which is a shame, because driver education in Delaware apparently emphasizes running bikes off the road. Once I break free and get some clear road, I glimpse the neighborhoods and homes that lie beyond the interstate. They all look alike, like little boxes made of ticky tacky. Delaware: the cookie cutter state. 

Before i know it I am in Virginia. The tip off is a massive sign decked out in Confederate battle flag colors that reads: "Welcome to Dixieland: The South Starts Here." Sometimes I wish that the old Confederacy would take the same attitude toward the antebellum period that the old Union has adopted: completely forgetting about it. I guess the losers never forget. 

After the first in a series of wack road snacks I come to the tunnel that connects Virginia to itself across Chesapeake Bay. Well, on the maps it is listed as a tunnel. Really it is a long ass bridge that descends into a tunnel twice. Hardly epic. On the other side of the bridge, life goes dark and I realize how behind schedule I am. By the time I roll up on the homies in Richmond I am shivering and can't feel my fingers. They set me up in a dungeon of sorts under their home and it is there that I watch a video of a dance that the man of the house choreographed. Even from the grainy video, I am haunted by the moves of its star dancer and unsettled in my core as I lay down to sleep next to jars of picked vegetables.

On the morning they feed me an impossibly delicious waffle and see me off on the next leg. The weather is a few degrees warmer than when I rocked exit from new york and I am thankful. There is soreness in my neck and shoulders, but it isn't so bad. On the stretch to north carolina, I spot several dead deer on the side of the road and it freaks me out. Cars hit these animals and killed them. If I hit one of these beasts, it will be my last taste of venison. I ride quickly but with caution and before long I hit the next state. It is there that I am treated to the worst burrito I have ever eaten. I suppose that is what I get for turning my nose up at fast food and pursuing local fair. Always choose the devil or Big Mac you know.

The entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway is pretty nondescript and I miss it on the first run. The parkway itself is narrow, the speed limit is slow and its scenery is absolute beauty. I stop often to gaze over the valley, as doing so while on the road could run me off the edge. There are vertical drop-offs without guard rails on the outside of most turns. It is enough for me to roll off the throttle in fear as I hit left turns. There's no such thing as a dangerous road; there are only roads that are ridden dangerously. Which I will do so long as I can live to tell about it. 

I catch up to a GS and ride with him for a while. At a lookout spot we stop and talk. He has been riding since Boston and has been on the Parkway for almost 300 miles. He's tired and has lost the edge that motorcyclists need to attack the streets fully. He is ready for sleep. I am a bit dull around the sides as well, but I rock one more push when the ridge of the mountain descends into a valley and the road widens a bit. I adjust my riding position to accommodate my tank bag and give an S2000 a run for its money. At the exit to Asheville the driver waves at me; a rare moment when a rider and a car driver move in harmony and mutually recognize the skills.

Asheville is a college town of some sort. I roll up at a hostel and arrange a bunk, then go out to look for a parking space and some food. I find neither and in a vaguely existential moment I am overcome by the activity of the city. People are decked out in costumes, headed to parties, clubs and restaurants. The energy of the city too much for me. I cancel the hostel and leave the city in search for more solitude. 

I arrive in an area called Maggie Valley. There are scores of hotels and motels here but I can't figure what would attract so many people to visit this place. I roll up to a motel and check in. I learn that my only possible dinner is from a pizza chain and quietly curse the gods as I order on the phone. The pizza delivery lady is nice in that southern way that I have missed. I am away from the revelry of halloween, but I still feel it. A world outside and far away has erupted in merriment and I cannot slough off that skin. In the motel in the valley it becomes clear to me just how lonely I am out here. My only comfort is sleep.

I awake in the valley and encounter a sick cold when I open the door. What the blood, how am i going to ride through this? This shit is frigid. By the tame i make it a couple miles down the road to a diner, I have lost all feeling in my fingers and my teeth are chattering. I eat my bacon slowly, in fear for my return to the streets. When it is time, I strap my last heat pack to my chest and march out to my bike. Fully warmed up, the engine temp is less than 160 degrees. Lord Jesus. I descend further into the valley where it only gets more chilly. Here, the leaves have already fallen from the trees; there are only skeletons. Winter has come early here. I figure that the best policy is to get through this as quickly as I can, so I pick up speed as I head south.

Before long I come upon a valley road that curves around a mountain in the most magnificent set of sweepers I have ever seen. The road is fairly barren so I blitz that shit, a clattering smile beneath my helmet. Maybe this has made the cold worth it. The road leads to a parkway of sorts, that cuts through several towns in the valley. In every town I pass there are an untold number of antique stores. Like yo, that is what this little pocket of North Carolina is known for. Wicker furniture and old timey bottle caps. And there is a Piggly Wiggly down here. Madness.

I spill onto some interstate headed to Georgia where every car is in a magnum hurry. Sounds good to me. In a flash I find myself just outside of Atlanta. At a gas station the car in front of me sports a bumper sticker that reads: secure our southern border: no amnesty. It occurs to me that the resistance to illegal immigration carries a strange irony. The story of the illegal immigrant is the story of a person eager to escape poverty and persecution, who braves harsh terrain to set foot on a land in which there will be greater opportunity. I know enough about history to know that you can't find a more American story than that. Yet many self proclaimed lovers of this country feel that this isn't a narrative worth pursuing. I have no beef with the immigration party of course. I may not love America, but I am totally gay for it.

I get lunch at a BBQ spot, and lane split my way through traffic. In a blink I roll up in Tallahassee to the home of none other than the Green Ninja. We get chicken and speak on the passage of the soul with an Oracle. In the morning, I roll up to the Ninja's class and put down some talk on Hegel. This is the nature of the dialectic, I say. Each shape of consciousness gives way to another when it fails to fulfill the terms that it sets for itself. Which is why your girlfriend will soon be your ex-girlfriend, I tell them.

After class we hit some corners. I realize that the miles of travel have revealed to me a new riding position and I try to figure that significance. I file it away for more research and we cruise through the campus of our alma mater on the way to get some catfish and pork chops. Those snacks send us straight to napville and when I awake I rock the last exit to my final destination.

I avoid the interstate and stick to a state road. It turns out to be a good move, as the road is completely empty. I look ahead and behind, take a deep breath, tuck down and pick up some serious speed. 6th gear to the shift light. The fastest I have ever traveled on the Atlas. The wind rushes around me like I am skydiving. So serious.

At the last town for twenty miles I check my gas and figure I can wait til the next town to fuel up. At the next town, I find that the only gas station is itself out of fuel. At the town after that, I find that the gas station has been closed down for many years. I start to worry as my E light comes on. These towns are nowhere. It is so strange to think that so many places are nowhere. Old abandoned motels. Rusty tractors. Pickup trucks that haven't hauled anything for many years. Some places  are so nowhere that living there denies one a sense of the scope of the world. Sometimes those places are little towns off of state roads. Sometimes those places are inner states, perspectives that never find correction no matter how many miles have been traveled.

I roll up to the next town on fumes, with just ounces of fuel to spare. I think of how close I am as I gas up. Out on the streets, the sky changes its shape. There are clouds in the distance. I hope they will hold back long enough for to get to Tampa, but there is no such luck. Just as night falls, I run into a wall of rain. A damned squall. I remember that, once again, I have forgotten to zip my suit properly. It is only a matter of time before water floods my crotch. Damn it all.

I come out on the other side of the rainfall the worse for wear. I am cold as all hell and my visor is foggy. I hit an expressway after a toll and somehow I feel more alone than I have ever felt, maybe in my whole life. I don't understand it, it is as if I am in a cocoon shut out from all light and all care. Like there is nothing outside of this helmet.

The traffic slows me down as I enter the proper outskirts of the city. I don't feel ready to hit the scene fully, so I rock entrance to the hiding place. There I warm up and rest that rest that can only come after a long trip. I have done it. The Pharmacon Atlas has lived up to its name and the object has now conformed to my concept. It is something to feel good about and a good reason to sleep.

On the morning I roll up to the Tea Lounge and learn that a great friend has gone into labor. I had hoped to see this, but the timing could not be more perfect. By nightfall, I peep the scene on a newborn. It sleeps peacefully on its first day of life. I go out to my bike and lock the handlebars in place. As I lay down to sleep, I wonder if all birth is also rebirth.