Lessons from the Harley #1: Packing
For the last three summers I have taken solo camping trips on my 2006 Harley-Davidson. Most people are incredulous that a 50+ year-old woman would hop on a motorcycle and go off into the unknown
alone. But it is an exhilarating prospect for me. Two of those summers I had a clear destination ~ Boulder, CO to visit my daughter. Last summer I had nowhere in particular that I was headed except for the Land Between the Lakes, a spit of land between two bodies of water and the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. Not having a timeline was an incredibly liberating feeling. No one was expecting me and I had only myself to answer to, and only myself to be entertained by.
Each trip brings me much time to reflect and learn, think and absorb. I learn motorcycle skills, life skills and life lessons. One of the first life lessons I learned and practice regularly has bubbled up regularly: pack as though you are packing for your best friend. That first summer as I was repacking my little Sportster 883 to begin another day’s journey, I began to get frustrated with myself. I thought, “Well, if it falls off or comes undone, I will just have to redo it. I am so incompetent with this packing!” After a long session of packing and self berating, I sat back and thought, “What if I were Julie, would I talk like this to her?” Of course not! I realized Lesson #1, pack as though you were packing for your best friend. Be as patient and considerate to yourself as you would if you were helping that friend.
If we can’t accept our own patience, kindness and thoughtfulness how can we expect others to accept them? Many times since that day, and especially when I pack, I think of that lesson and I slow down and put better effort into the work at hand. This is what it means to “put your own oxygen mask on first.” We can’t help others unless we are actively helping and willing to help ourselves. Instead of pushing or pulling, we should all be standing together holding hands and lending support. In order to “be the change” I have to transform and be that change from the inside out, not just reflect what I wish others to see, but feel it myself. It begs the question would I follow myself?
I often tell students, “Act, talk, and think as though your mom or grandma or I were sitting on your shoulder watching what you were doing.” We should always treat ourselves and others the way we treat our best friends because in the end we are our own best friends. We are our constant companions. Better to have your constant companion be pleasant and supportive than negative and destructive. If we begin to reflect on our self-treatment, we can begin to put more positive energy into the universe and be kinder to all. Our leadership will come more from the heart. We will want to follow ourselves, therefore others might believe that our integrity is intact. So, pack for your best friend and don’t forget to include an extra dose of kindness and patience.