Unpack your shit

A few years ago a couple of my friends got married in Redlands, California, about an hour outside of LA.

I asked a mutual friend who was planning to ride his motorcycle down from the San Jose area, if I could fly into that airport instead of LAX, and hitch a ride with him to Redlands. I’d never taken a road trip on a motorcycle and always wanted to.

He was into the idea so I booked my travel. We’d ride down to the wedding together and then back up afterward. I’d fly out of San Jose a few days later.

Let me tel you something: Riding a motorcycle for a long distance is no joke. As someone who had ridden a motorcycle perhaps twice in her life prior to this event, I came to the swift realization that I’d have done well with some practice runs. The vibrations, the noise, the hanging on for dear life! Good lawd.

Add to that a backpack full of books.

Why on earth the two of us required 10 hardback books for what would amount to approximately 3 hours of down time all weekend, I have no clue. But there they were, all right there in my backpack as we hurtled down the freeway at 70 miles per hour.

Oh, have I mentioned yet that my helmet did not fit at all? No, I haven’t. Well, it didn’t. So I’m already hanging on for dear life, with an extra 20 or so pounds on my back, but if I moved my head in a certain way and caught the wind just right (or wrong, as it were), the helmet would fill with air and jerk my head back and I’d have to hang on even harder.

Good times, all around.

After letting this go on for way too long, I finally gave him two taps on the left shoulder which was our signal that I need to pull over. We found a spot and got off.

“I’ve been thinking. I’ve got our heaviest stuff on my back, while our clothes and all the lighter things are in the saddle bags. I need to unpack this shit, it’s too heavy.”

We rearranged our load so the books went down into the saddle bags and I took the lighter stuff. And just like that, a literal weight was lifted off my shoulders.

I hadn’t realized at the time, but what a great little metaphor for life.

Unpack your shit. You don’t have to carry it all yourself.

It hurts, trying to keep upright like that… with the velocity of life, and all this crap on your back. Take it off. Put it somewhere else, don’t let it weigh you down. You’re not built for that.

We continued on to Redlands, and though it was better, I’d waited too long to say something. (Another little lesson, no?) My hips and back were sore, I was totally over it.

But we arrived just in time for the wedding and we both enjoyed it immensely. What fun to see our friends of 20 years finally take the plunge! I’ll never forget that weekend.

And right after that lovely ceremony I got straight on the phone and changed my flight to depart from LAX, rather than subject my poor bony Irish booty to one more minute on that damn bike.

One last bit of wisdom in this story: Know when your ass has had enough.


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