.17Oct17.

Ponder of the bus and then decide on the walk,
air brisk, down in thickets of city
scurry of park block rats
been nostalgic for my late winter
start, earlier this year, the walks that
defined efficiency as a new mode
toward freedom
Never headphones in, rarely a phone call
eyes up, not engaging, ponder as I hit Steel
Bridge that walks through poverty and street
folk can render one downright inhospitable
Contrast of the trusses along the lift span
against convention center space towers, smooth
still Willamette, pace of my feet, beat

.October 1, 2017.

I woke up today hearing about the shooting in Las Vegas. I listened on NPR and watched some PBS broadcasts, stunned and sad.
Everybody wants answers, nobody knows what to say that will explain it. Maybe there is nothing to say.

The entire situation is unthinkable, unpredictable. The questions are put out there by the media, and by ourselves: “Did this happen because of mental illness, the shooter’s affiliation with this or that group? What was his motivation? Does this make more people re-think gun control legislation?”

Right now, not even 24 hours after it went down, some sort of response — however small and solitary — came through in a few texts with family and friends.

The only answer is love, is what I heard from a couple people.
And that is so simple and vague, so what do we mean by that..?

There is a gentling of the spirit that occurs, for me, anyway, in response to this sort of thing. Definitely puts a lot into perspective, right?
We’re not going to get rid of all guns, we’re not going to heal mental illness, and we’re not going to immediately correct political arguments and social unrest.
We can, however, change something within ourselves.

The brave men and women who were there, and involved in helping afterward… everything from other concert attendees who shielded and carried each other to safety, to a woman helping bring wounded individuals to the hospital in her truck, to the police, firefighters, EMTs and medical staff at nearby hospitals… showed the best kind of immediate love one can give in that situation.
So many stories have already come forth about people thinking of others and lending a hand even when stuck in a hail of bullets. It’s amazing.

Being the Helper, when thrown into a situation like that, is the best any of us can hope to be, and I’m proud of everybody who kept their wits about them last night and were able to do anything at all to help people around them, as the scene was not declared safe for emergency personnel to enter, initially, until some time after the shooting had started.

* * *

Many of us have emotional strife and other issues in our day-to-day lives that perhaps don’t bring out the best in us.
I know I am sometimes too combative — in my mind, and in my heart.
I am also too defensive, and combative in social and emotional ways — when I feel threatened, or frustrated, or exhausted.

I’m not always at my best, and in fact sometimes feel a tension in my gut that can manifest in being too mean, or grumpy, or plain old not nice, or selfish.

I sometimes try to check in with myself even while walking around on errands, ponder whether my composure is open, or whether my expression is kind.
Most of the time, I think I walk around with a big shield up, braced against the world.

When walking through some kinda seedy areas of town, I’m basically avoiding eye contact while staying alert in case of any danger. It feels like if I open up and allow engagement too much, in some areas, I get pestered with lots of requests for money, or simply invite strange statements and interactions with the poor and mentally ill that line the streets between my apartment and work.

But most of the time, there’s no need for that. That posture, and mental attitude, and expression puts me in a mindset of Me vs. Them, and it’s something I want to work on.

When I say that the only response for some of us, at this moment, might be simple Love, I mean I want to hold myself and others in a kind light, not in a negative light.

I’m no expert on meditation, but there is this phrase that came into my mind, variations of which I’ve heard at a couple of guided meditations. This one is from the Metta meditation website (a link is below):

“May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease. ”
And after a period of directing loving-kindness toward yourself, you can repeat that phrase of loving-kindness to others:

“May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.”

This all may feel a little ‘floaty’, compared to the heaviness of the grim reality of events in Vegas, and other places in the world, but it’s a place to start.

May you be safe, readers.

– BonFireFly

http://www.mettainstitute.org/mettaarticle.html

providence cancer

Providence Portland Medical Foundation.

Please donate if you can.
Some coworkers were participating in the donation cause, and I’d thought I’d help — initially by donating to a member’s page, but now by expanding the hyperlink that is now how our society runs.

Click if you are able.

– Windwalker

https://finishcancer2017.everydayhero.com/us/windwalker

.Micah Fletcher.

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2017/05/in_interviews_max_stabbing_sur.html

“The little girl who had the misfortune that day to experience what happened on that MAX, her life is never going to be the same. I want you to imagine that for a second, being the little girl on that MAX. This man is screaming at you, his face is a pile of knives, his body is a gun, everything about him is cocked, loaded and ready to kill you. There’s a history here with this. You can feel that this has happened before and the only thing that was different was the names and faces. And then a stranger, two strangers, three strangers come to your aid. They try to help you, and that pile of knives just throws itself at them, kills them.”

– Poet Micah Fletcher


https://www.youcaring.com/survivorsofthemaxattack-833557

.look for the helpers.

The stabbing at Hollywood Transit Center, on the light rail here in Portland one week ago, has generated a lot of news coverage, as well as much discussion about issues at a national and global level, part of which is playing right now on Oregon Public Broadcasting as I type.

The morning after the stabbing, I received texts from loved ones, asking me if I had heard anything; I hadn’t, so I looked it up and was horrified by what I read.

At the same time, and more importantly, I was impressed by the courageous actions of Army veteran (of Iraq and Afghanistan) Ricky John Best (R.I.P.); recent Reed College graduate Taliesin Myrddin (R.I.P.); and poet Micah David-Cole Fletcher (who survived his wounds) all of whom stepped up to protect the two young women who were being insulted and accosted by a man who was later apprehended by the police.

This morning, June 2, I hopped on the TriMet’s MAX Light Rail Red Line, near where I live, to the Hollywood Transit Center (TC) for a Dr. appointment, and to hit up the Trader Joe’s that’s right there.

I knew that stop was where the event occurred, and I’ve caught the train there often for various appointments. There are unhinged, muttering, aggressive, mentally unbalanced, drunk, drugged out, and downright scary people all over this city, so I really don’t attribute what happened to any particular area — it just happens to be where something happened recently.

As I walked up the steps from the train stop, then north on the pedestrian bridge, and down the steps past some Portland Police (who were there to maintain a good, preventive presence, as there are supposed to be some demonstrations there today), I was blown away by how much was there in tribute to the two men who are now gone.
The chalk messages, flowers, candles, and other items left in the area were mostly loving in nature, and had me in awe.

I checked it out a little on my way to the doctor, then spent more time on the way back, walking slowly up the concrete ramp to read the messages and look at the flowers. One older woman was walking it as well, crying, and several people were checking it out in general while some kind folks set up a Free Donut station with some coffee nearby.


One part of the messages was an excerpt from a quote by Mr. Rogers.

“I was spared from any great disasters when I was little, but there was plenty of news of them in newspapers and on the radio, and there were graphic images of them in newsreels. There was something else my mother did that I’ve always remembered: “Always look for the helpers,” she’d tell me. “There’s always someone who is trying to help.” I did, and I came to see that the world is full of doctors and nurses, police and firemen, volunteers, neighbors and friends who are ready to jump in to help when things go wrong.”

– Fred Rogers, in a quote from 1986

I’ll refrain from politicizing this right now, myself, although it necessarily IS political, because I’m inspired by the writing of James Sissler, who was a friend of Taliesin.

https://qz.com/996115/remembering-taliesin-myrddin-namkai-meche-portland-stabbing-victim-to-honor-his-death-dont-be-too-quick-to-politicize-it/

During a tragedy, “Always look for the helpers,” good readers.

Better yet, BE A HELPER.

– BonFireFly





.flora colossus.

mossy ribs

I walk into the office, which is well lit, the afternoon sun pouring through the large pane windows.

My therapist greets me at the door, and gestures to the easy chair. He remains standing in the corner, assuming a serene stance, his usual approach. He simply waits for me to speak.

I exhale and begin my litany of concerns, fears, pending problems.

“Yeah, so, I’m about to leave for a place that’s familiar, yet not so familiar, you know? I think I’ll be fine, and comfortable, and I just don’t know if I’m going to realize my full self unless I head out there. And I don’t know if I’m just imagining my affinity for the place, or if it’s real. Things change. People change…”

My therapist listens, nodding slightly, and says only, “I am Groot.”

“Right, you’re right. I’m over-thinking it. So, I’ve spoken to lots of friends and family, and everybody agrees that the area will suit me, will help me to grow and develop the way I’m supposed to. But I don’t even really believe that I’m supposed to do anything — I mean, I don’t believe in pre-destiny, y’know? I just want to make sure I’m not feeling so…damn…alien all the time.”

Continuing to listen, my therapist lays a branch on the windowsill, stares into the sun, pondering, then continues, “I am Groot.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” I say. “It’s easy to think that we need to become something, or need to fit in with other people, but in the end, I really just need to do my thing, right? Just settle in and figure out my own groove, not overextend myself, and just keep on keepin’ on, right?”
I search my therapist’s face desperately, feeling like he’s really onto something now, and is helping me figure out a way forward.

“I am Groot,” he says, with finality, lowering his arm…or his branch…or his…stick-arm, back to his thigh. I can’t quite make out what I’d call a mouth, but I feel like I see a faint, peaceful smile appear on his face.

“Right. Right, man,” I exhale, relieved. “I’d never thought of that, really, but I think it’ll help me a ton, to try that approach. I’m going to focus on a new way to interact, maybe work on my pace of life a bit, hell, even change my expression to be more kind, more open. Maybe slow down and not try to multi-task so much. It’d never occurred to me, really, until you put it that way.”

I joined my therapist in looking out the window for a minute, resting a hand on the windowsill, feeling the warmth of the sun.
I then realized I’d been worried about nothing this entire time. I pulled out my cell phone, noticed the time, and realized the session was over. Without a word, I gave my therapist a nod and a small smile, and walked out of that office to embark on my next adventure in the galaxy.

lil’ groot
groot

.coniferous ent.

Took a walk at Paul Lange Arboretum and other parts of the Comus Lake area tonight, a place I’ve gravitated to at different times over the past year and a half.

I usually head straight for the Ben Dibble trail, a rougher trail in the woods that provides a break from the wind.

Partway down the trail, all the familiar landmarks greet me. There’s the little forts that people have made with fallen branches, the tree that is bent out into the water, the sign at the end that announces private property beyond that point…

It’s been cold lately, so I braved the ice, walking out to finally get a 180 degree vantage point on the trail.

Ben Dibble trail from Comus Lake

A little past where I would normally need to turn around due to the private property, there is a marshy area, with a hunting blind set up, which looked pretty cozy. During my walk toward it, I saw some tracks that were either muskrat or raccoon.

hunting blind

The tracks looked like freaky little baby hand prints.

muskrat or raccoon prints?

At one point, I saw either fox or coyote prints that crossed the raccoon or muskrat tracks. It did not look like they were there at the same time, or I imagine the fox or coyote would have been chasing the muskrat. Instead, I’d say that the snow allowed me to see the predator tracks that I’d guess were older, maybe from last night, whereas I supposed the muskrat or raccoon tracks looked crisper, more fresh, maybe from this morning.

two separate tracks, crossing paths at different times

Walking back, some geese were heard overhead. They proceeded West, in front of a waxing crescent moon about halfway through its journey across the sky.

geese proceeding West for mid-winter…

I decided to get off the ice for my return trek, back on Ben Dibble trail, noticing that somebody had completed clearing some of the fallen brush I’d started to clear myself a month or so ago. There’d been some branches blocking the path, so I cracked and bent them back. Over the past year or so, I’ve also tried to collect whatever garbage I can from the trail, such as plastic bags or bottles, to do what I can to contribute.

As I got back toward the Paul Lange Arboretum area, where I always take the loop East toward the water to complete the circle, I looked up and saw the moon had gotten brighter, clearer, and a planet sitting a little west of it shone bright. I always presume it’s a planet, when no other stars can yet be seen. I’m thinking it was Jupiter (from looking at my Skymap app) but could be wrong.

I’ve been thinking about Swamp Thing lately, and how to best incorporate my similar character in my story into the bigger picture of Leon and Brighid’s undertaking.

It didn’t occur to me until I was bracing against the now-freezing wind, toward my car, just how many forms he can take.

just standing there

I’d had a dream Friday night that I was in a large cabin in the woods somewhere. As I approached the back door, there was a tall, hulking figure standing in the doorway. It wasn’t menacing, and it didn’t move. It was just there. My immediate thought was it was Sasquatch, or Bigfoot. I just knew that’s what it was. I turned to go get my axe, unsure what my intent was, but knowing I should grab something, and after I grabbed it and turned around, I saw the figure was gone.

When I awoke, I was able to remember the dream so clearly; the image stuck with me for several minutes.

Sasquatch wasn’t there to hurt me, and I shouldn’t have felt I needed to grab the axe. He was there to see me, or to let me see him, and then he was gone.

Off to a new chapter tomorrow, but I feel like I can melt through the planet like Swamp Thing, pop up in marshes wherever I want, or perhaps appear in a forest in coniferous form. You can’t track me, you can’t identify my species. I am able to blend, to take the form I need to in order to survive. I can travel at speed of thought, be at your doorway one second, then gone without a trace the next.

used the ice to finally obtain my perch on the horizontal tree

They’ll make an X-Files episode about me someday, ha..!

Til next time (from a place further West), kampers,

– Mossy

.animal legal defense fund.

I was just listening to Iowa Public Radio on my laptop, as I tend to do while working on things.

The home page had an article about Iowa’s ranking in animal legal protection that was very sad to see.

http://iowapublicradio.org/post/iowa-ranks-second-last-animal-legal-protection#stream/0

What is sadly interesting, but not surprising, is the unfortunate connection between neglect and abuse of animals, and treatment of humans:

“…those who harm animals are five times more likely to harm humans as well.”
– Lora Dunn, Interim Director and Senior Staff Attorney of the Criminal Justice Program at the Animal Legal Defense Fund

I love animals, and have many friends who love them as well, ranging from those who consider our fellow Beings who have 4 legs as important as people, to those who believe in the Do No Harm to any Creature ethos. All respectable.

I am a meat-eater. And I respect responsible hunting; I admire those who hunt in a sustainable way and try to achieve their kill as cleanly as possible, but I have always felt disturbed by people who beat, kick, neglect, or otherwise abuse their pets, or any animal.

I did not see anything in the article that was a call to arms, but the Animal Legal Defense Fund seems to be one place to start, in terms of gaining information and ways to act.

I believe this cat is the one in charge of the whole program.
I wouldn’t mess with this cat.

Kitty version of Matt Murdock / Daredevil ?

http://aldf.org/

.bryophytes.

How many times did I hike Oneonta, Triple Falls, Multnomah area and elsewhere, giddy from the sights and smells, the pure oxygen?

PCT at BotG

How many times did I tell myself to just stay on the trail, mid-hike, and melt into the underbrush?

I sent moss back to people, put moss in my pockets, hand-carried some back, selected samples of different species to compare and examine.

mossy ribs

I’d hike out until dark, not yet at the waterfall or the viewpoint, darkness falling, not caring.

I heard somebody practicing the violin, once, near the Pacific Crest Trail, their exact location impossible to discern amid the damp foliage.

I met a nice slug.

I did pushups, took waterfall showers, did some extreme fartlek hiking, took … too many pictures.

I hope it is all still there.

Along one trail, I ran into Alex Olsen, who educated me on a few things:

“Bryophytes are the oldest of all lineages of land plants and are believed to be a vital link in the migration of plants from aquatic environments onto land. A number of physical features link bryophytes to both land plants and aquatic plants. Two distinct adaptations have helped to make the move from water to land possible and forged the way for plants to colonize the Earth’s terrestrial environments. A waxy cuticle covering the soft tissue of the plant provides protection and prevents desiccation of the plant’s tissues. The development of gametangia provided further protection specifically for gametes.

They also have embryonic development which is a significant adaptation seen in land plants and not green algae. Connections to their aquatic ancestry are also evident through their dependence on water for reproduction and survival. A thin layer of water is required on the surface of the plant to enable the movement of sperm between gametophytes and the fertilization of an egg.”

…sexy…

Until next time, Readers.

– Mossy

.you do not have actual voting power.

http://www.fairelectionsproject.org/

“We oppose partisan gerrymandering, and are working to ask the courts to implement a standard that can measure when there’s too much partisan gerrymandering, violating the Constitutional rights of the citizens of a given state.”

Check out this site if you would like your political power, through a vote, to actually have any weight.

Right now, it does not, when we look at the combined way our individual power is watered down by both the electoral college and rampant gerrymandering.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/559c1a7be4b0a2650c6c39b3/t/559d3d13e4b055d80315b489/1436368147493/Exhibit+1.pdf

The way I see it, I had more actual power while voting in the Primaries, but then the way the conventions work, any new or non-mainstream voices are pushed to the side.

When districts are re-drawn, that is the politicians choosing their voters, instead of the voters choosing their politicians.

If we take a look at how a state like Iowa handles redistricting, it really sheds light on how many other states have it all wrong.
As it says in the article, their process ensures that “The mapmakers are not allowed to consider previous election results, voter registration, or even the addresses of incumbent members of Congress.”

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2013/12/08/iowa-redistricting-takes-partisanship-out-mapmaking/efehCnJvNtLMIAFSQ8gp7I/story.html

It is not just the recent election via our republic (not a democracy) that should frighten us. This has happened five times before, where the popular vote does not count. The idea is to prevent ‘mob rule’ but at this point, all it seems to do is take away the meaning, and power, of our individual votes; help lobbyists to control the outcome of elections by working the system to achieve the electoral win; and ensure that the Corporate States of America are alive and well.

We are not in a democracy…not by any means. What can we do?

We can start by waking up to the actual system we’re a part of, and by helping our fellow citizens, and our representatives, to wake up and drive toward a change.

It all starts with being informed.

.MoonSnow.

Drove back from Des Moines tonight after seeing some friends, trying to show some small amount of appreciation to people who helped me in different ways about 15-16 months ago.

When I first arrived, it was after most had left the unit I was in. In a way, that was fine, because different, intense feelings emerged, even as I simply found a place to park and tried to figure out the best place to walk in. Aside from when I left, I hadn’t really gotten a great sense of the outside of that building, really.

I happened to enter near the cafeteria, so that was my first familiar point. I passed through, down a hallway that has the 1955 “Don Quixote” on the wall, then simply followed signs. Passing toward where my unit was, I saw the Lynne Cutler Park where I had first gotten a breath of fresh air. Due to some stories family members shared, and pictures I later saw, I knew I had been out there previously when I was still out of it, but once I was more dialed in and cognizant again, I remember enjoying trips out to that park, even when it was very hot outside.

Strolling the walkways of it, around the sculptures, gardens, and playground, I appreciated that I was walking it instead of rolling through it in a wheelchair, or navigating it on a walker. I remember how amazing it had felt to go out there and simply look at the sky, smell and see the flowers, see aircraft overhead…it’s part of what started to help me feel more human than hideous.

Rebecca Ekstrand sculpture

I remember admiring the sculpture in the center, four nude women dancing, or sort of standing gracefully, in a loose circle in honor of a Life Flight crew that lost their lives in 1980. An inscription in the hallway next to the park reads:
“Dedicated to the memory of Lynne Cutler who was killed an automobile accident in 1975.
Family and friends of Lynne funded this memorial for the benefit of patients, visitors, and staff at Iowa Methodist Medical Center.”

“Life Flight Crew Memorial.
Rebecca Ekstrand created this sculpture that symbolically captures the spirit and dedication of:
Hallie Burns, RN
Maureen Griffin, RN
and Nick Roetner, Pilot
who lost their lives on a life flight mission in the service of emergency air transport in 1980.”

It brought so much back to be in that park again, only this time in single digit temperatures, with no flowers. I sat on a couple of the chairs and benches, and listened for the sounds of the life flight chopper. Thankfully, it was silent.

After seeing some friends, I then returned the next day to see some staff, both in the CCU and the Rehab unit. It was a Tuesday, and everybody was busy, of course, but those I saw who remembered me were great to talk to, especially Pat, my recreational therapist who got me going on some therapeutic coloring. I gave her at least two hugs, and we chatted for quite some time about things in general, and I couldn’t stop telling her how important I think their work is.

As we recollected some of the colored mandalas I had sent her digital pictures of last year, she even pulled them up on her phone, as she had a ‘Jon File,’ which was touching. We had shared some thoughts and resources on Yogic seated stretching and the like. I told her that while I’d slowly tapered off on my mandala coloring (although now I feel a need to resume those, since I have some pretty awesome coloring books, including a Star Wars and Halloween book, to use), I’d somewhat replaced it with creation of my Ranger Beads. I explained to her what those were (pace count beads) and why they are therapeutic to make, and also mentioned that I think the beads themselves could perhaps be beneficial, especially for military vets who might know what they are.

She loved the idea that they could be used to count blessings, prayers, appreciations…as well as pace count. I happened to bring a few extras with from my stock, so I left all of them with her, asking her to pick one for herself. She graciously took them all, and said she looks forward to spreading them among their patients, especially veterans, as time passes. She also said she thinks it might be useful for somebody like me to participate in something called the ‘Peer Partner’ program, where I could help encourage people who are where I was at last year, maybe just share my story, or — better yet — listen to theirs.

She said she hopes I figure out where I’m going to be, and what work I’m going to do, and we both agreed that it’d be great to get back to Des Moines. As I wandered around a little bit today, I remembered how much I had been making Iowa my home, and I told Pat that. She said that if I get back there sometime, I need to contact her about volunteering as a Peer Partner.

I couldn’t believe how I felt when she said that. It sounds amazing, and just what I need. I felt like no matter what I do for an occupation, participating in something like that would help me to feel more fulfilled. That conversation with her, alone, was very comforting, especially during a time when I feel somewhat uprooted, aimless, and ‘floaty,’ as I’ve put it to many lately.

I walked around the Pappajohn sculpture park briefly, as it was very cold out, and admired some new sculptures, while also seeing that downtown continues to develop, with some interesting shops, studios, and businesses, including some new building just south of Iowa Methodist.

All in all, a great visit, and while I was able to drop off some curds, some fruit basket items, some cards (one for CCU and one for Younker Rehab) and a small evergreen plant — such small tokens compared to the work the staff does there — it was really just an excuse to see some faces and environments that were, for me, part of coming back to the world again (yes, probably from Pluto).

I was also able to see two old coworkers, dudes I hadn’t seen since before I quit Wind in 2015…both of whom had selflessly helped my father move some of my stuff from WDM into a Uhaul to bring to Wisconsin. They’re both great guys and seem to be doing well. I miss them and other friends from that area, and hope to see them again soon.

My drive back out of Des Moines, the moon rose yellow and large on the horizon, and as I proceeded West, it continued to rise quickly, as it always seems to when close to the horizon, the sky clear and speckled with stars.

Most of the fields on the way back were covered with some snow, so everywhere I looked, details were visible, and it appeared like daytime to me.

In the darkness, light.

Probably a religious quote, but I prefer to think of other things related to that phrase, like the Phial of Galadriel from Lord of the Rings; that glowing crystal Frodo is given. There was no Shelob around, and I wasn’t in Mt. Doom any more, but it felt serendipitous to have such an illuminated drive back to Wisconsin after being able to see some people and show appreciation for those who helped me.

Or, to give this one a title: MoonSnow.

Stay warm out there, readers.

.DON’T WAVE.

We all sat around the campsite picnic table near Keystone, unwinding after a long ride. It was hot, which we expected. Felt fine in some shade provided by trees. The plan was to check out Keystone first, then venture into the main event at Sturgis the next day.

This was in 2008, and feels like more than a decade ago.

Keith sat at the table, running a comb through his long, gnarled, blonde hair, practically ripping chunks out as he tried to straighten the mess. I mean, it was sort of brutal and shocking, and I wondered if he was injuring his scalp. It was that bad. I think I just said, “Jesus!” and he just laughed.

Even going his mellow sixty-five mile-per-hour speed had taken a toll on him, and we all felt the exhilerated exhaustion of hundreds of highway miles since Sioux Falls. Our loose convoy had proceeded like a slinky, stretching the distance between the fastest of us, the slowest (Keith) and the Goldilocks (me). Like I told him last month, I’d tried to be the glue, but had to give up after awhile, realizing that he would go his speed, and my uncle would go his.

At one stop on our way West, we sat outside a restaurant, watching other attendees roll through, pass along, stop and cool their heels. During this time, I remember him sharing stories about previous rides, and we talked about the military a little. He was Air Force. I was Army. I sensed and enjoyed a sort of gruff intelligence about him. It felt familiar, unedited, no bullshit. I either already did or was trying to embody this as well. Certain types tend to drift together.

Although I thought of myself as laid back at the time, I know now that I totally wasn’t.

I wanted very much to be relaxed, but found it difficult in some social situations or any large groups. Too self-aware in a world where I felt not enough were even remotely aware. Keith, on the other hand, just had the confidence to Not Give a Shit. Not in a rude way, but simply in a way that knew what he was about, kept things simple, and knew he would not have to explain himself, because he felt fine as he was.

The event called Sturgis is full of all types. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but figured on the usual collection of shiny-new black leather Harley guys, a range of seasoned and new riders, perhaps a small smattering of other types of bikes, but mostly Harleys of course. I rode my Honda Shadow. It’s just what I had, and it ran fine. Contrary to what I hear from many non-riders, it really wasn’t frowned upon or sneered at to “not be riding a Harley.” In fact, if anything, any comments I received were to the positive, people admiring somebody who rides what they ride and doesn’t care about brands. Oh, the irony…of a group of people considered ‘rebellious’ to themselves be part of the assumed hegemony of rider identity, where anything but H-D is considered inferior. But like I said, while there was a more common brand being represented, it’s not like anybody was being a dick. Shit, kind of disappointing, in a way.

But whatever. In the end, anybody who cares too much about that is missing the point. And the glad observation I made was, again, that more kindness was shown upon me than not. Probably 90% of the folks who attend are all manner of civilized brutes, perhaps only dressing up for this Halloween called the Sturgis Rally before returning the leathers and motorcycles to the mothballs.

One element of biker culture is the ‘wave’. It’s probably got all kinds of other terms, and there are plenty of articles describing this social phenomena. The basic idea is acknowledgement, the brotherhood/sisterhood. To me, the idea was always a simple “I see you,” that indicates you’d be available to help, even, should they encounter mechanical trouble, or that, unlike many drivers of other vehicles — hey, you actually See them. Just plain Safety.

Sometimes things are communicated, such as hand signals to indicate some police down the road. The wave can range from full-on, palm-forward waves, like a child waving at a parade, or more commonly is exhibited by a low, almost-lazy drop of the hand, angled slightly outward, in the essence of casual howdy-doo. Plenty of variations.

There are times you don’t wave, or shouldn’t, such as while operating your controls, going through a curve that requires both hands and concentration, while proceeding through towns with stoplights, or any other complicated setting where it just doesn’t make sense.

In more recent years, I’ve definitely noticed people waving more often when it generally does not make sense. Just through pure observation, I’ve noted it historically tends to be deployed on the open highway much more so than in traffic. Again, the idea is that it’s conducted when you might not really need that hand. Hell, sometimes you drop that left hand anyway, just to give it a break…so it’s already at the ready; some people just barely lift a finger to point, while that hand is already dropped, to indicate an acknowledgement. Hey, man, lazy is cool. Right?

I digress.

Riding through Sturgis, Keith rocked this big, black, sleeveless shirt with large, white capital letters on it. The letters ran from neck to waist, from shoulder to shoulder, and it said:
DON’T
WAVE

To many viewers– and to me, initially — it screamed sort of a big ‘Fuck You,’ both antisocial and a command to focus on why you’re riding, to not care about who the hell sees you.

That could very well be what it’s about, and that’s it. I sure as hell know that I was sick of giving ‘The Wave’ while still about 100 miles outside of the rally, and given the constant presence of fellow riders everywhere you looked, it of course just didn’t make sense to keep waving. Makes more sense when you see another rider on some back road in the Iowa countryside in early Spring…like, “Whoa! What’re YOU doing here?”…but seems plain silly when you’re at an event that’s crawling with so many riders, you’d never be touching your left grip. Suffice to say, plenty of people still gave the wave in giddy joy near everywhere we rode.

When I saw Keith last month, and again the other day, I remembered the Don’t Wave shirt, and considered how much the sentiment fits with many other meanings.

While DON’T WAVE connotes Screw Off; that one is too busy to wave; or perhaps is just lost in the Zen concentration of riding, it can also mean you’re not saying Goodbye.

DON’T WAVE is the ultimate see-ya-later, essentially a statement that all like-minded spirits are bound together regardless, so there’s no need to waste the motion.

I gave him one last hug the other day as I was about to leave him to a nap.
On my way out, we looked at each other one more time, and I’m not saying that he was telling me Not to Wave, but his look right then, and some looks earlier that afternoon, said, “It’s okay, man. Just keep your focus, keep on riding, get out there and do it for me.”

Right on, Keith. I’ll see ya down the road. Might give you a barely discernible nod, but no Wave, brother.
And thanks for the gift.

Just Enough Light To Read By…

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