Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sunday's Reflections

This has been an eventful weekend. Not in a physical sense, nor has it been a particularly mobile weekend; I stayed in town and, for that matter – mostly at home. However, it has been, in some respects, exhausting – no, busy - nonetheless. Furthermore, even though I spent much of this weekend at home, I have interacted with a greater variety of friends, family and acquaintances via a variety of means consistently over a period of time. In short, I have felt more “plugged in” than I do during a normal, busy weekday.

Ok, I think that the question then has been successfully set up – why? What gave this weekend the flavor of a hectic work (or school) week? In a word – interaction. And not just idle conversation either (although some of it was just chit-chat), but meaningful, substantive, intelligent and pertinent discussion. It happened with friends, it happened by email, it happened with family members and it happened on blogs. It occurred between good friends that I see regularly and new friends that I have never met face-to-face. It covered a variety of topics and some may even have lasting effect.

The revelation is that none of these differences, be it means, topic or relationship, had any bearing on the “ranking” of the discussion’s importance. In other words, each conversation held the same or similar status with me – even the chit-chat. It was an intellectually busy weekend and I feel as exhausted as I do relaxed. An interesting dichotomy in that I believed those two feelings to be mutually exclusive.

There was more than just talk, of course. Other forms of non-verbal communication by way of these various vehicles were also apparent. Yes, even through the faceless, silent and often anonymous electronic medium known as cyberspace. “Feelings” can be expressed through text. Through word selection and placement, different understandings and even misunderstandings can manifest themselves. This is not new to me, but does garner my attention occasionally, especially when linked to other events that seem totally unrelated – but the connection suddenly becomes clear.

Then there is emotional non-verbal communication as well. It is identification, in real time, with feelings of excitement, sadness, disappointment, empathy and the like. And not a word has to be spoken. Often it could be tied to a physical experience with the very real smells, sounds and sights of an event such as a radio station’s motorcycle give-away promotion. This is not just a hypothetical example of what could be, but rather the story of what was.

Although my excursions outside my home were short, nearby and limited, one will stand out for a very long time. Like so many experiences, the greater significance of this one did not hit me until I had a moment to reflect – which happened just minutes ago! After my original plans for Saturday morning fell through, my friend called and asked if I’d like to ride down to Sacramento Harley-Davidson with him. It was a short ride (15 – 20 minutes), but it was also a beautiful, tank top riding Saturday morning. Since I no longer had any obligations, I accepted.

I met him at his house and then we rode over to another friend’s to pick him and his son up before all riding over to Sac Harley. The friend who called me had qualified to win a brand new, $30,000 Harley. He was one of just 24 qualifiers, so his chances of winning were pretty good, but still long. There was the radio station’s promo tent and mobile unit, a free barbeque and soft drinks and, of course, a sale. Just after noon, the drawing began. It was a reverse-style, elimination drawing, so the last thing we wanted to hear was our friend’s name. Besides those of us who rode down with him, there were a number of other friends and acquaintances there to participate in the festivities and lend moral support.

Although we all jokingly referred to the bike as his in the days before, it stopped being funny when the drawing started and names began to get eliminated – each loser winning a $100.00 gift certificate. After five, he was still standing; ten, still there. Then 15 names were gone, then 20, then after 22 names had been eliminated, he and one other qualifier were left. As one can imagine, the suspense was at a fever pitch. And we were all there with him, feeling his excitement and suspense – ready to celebrate his good fortune… or console him in defeat.

His name was drawn next. His consolation prize for second place was the same as 24th, a $100.00 gift certificate. It was almost as thrilling as if my own name had been in that drawing. He and the other qualifiers were not with the rest of the crowd – they were near the radio van and the bike – a beautiful 2006 Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle, 103 inch, limited edition Fat Boy. We were not close enough to converse, but we knew. We could feel his heart beating – we felt his ever-growing disbelief as name after name was not his. And when his name was finally called on the 23rd pull, our collective hearts sank.

So close but yet so far, we all felt it with him. Not so unusual perhaps, but the secondary, the “post-traumatic stress” response was equally unified. It was an expression of gratitude. For a hundred bucks? Second to $30K? No, thankful that we were able to take the ride with him, the building crescendo and the fall from the top. The excitement and exhilaration… the disbelief followed by the disbelief. All felt in a single moment; all the same and all together. Isn’t that what it’s really all about?


Jinsane said...

What a great post! I'm glad you had such a wonderful weekend. I think weekends like you just had are great for the soul!!!

I especially like the part about your friend and the harley. I was so enthralled by what was going on, I felt like I was actually there. Great writing!!

Ellen said...

I really thought your friend was going to end up with the new Harley just by the way you led us through the story. I am officially depressed for him.... and as nice as it was to get the $100.00, it would have been nicer to get the bike. Oh well, such is life!

Very nice to have one of those weekends where you get to catch up with family, friends and life. You come away feeling accomplished, with the world spinning on the correct axis again. Then Monday is here, and we get to do it all over again.... As outinleftfield would say: "le sigh!"

Saur♥Kraut said...

As you know, cuz Blogger was down forever, I shot you an email instead. Just markin' my place here. ;o)

Lady Prism said...

yes it is...

I was holding my breath while reading through...gawd!..I was hoping he bagged the major prize lol!

You just wrote about how real...real life can be...

beautiful post...

I'll be meeting a friend later...I'll be talking to people...I'll remember this post while doing that...

Biker Betty said...

Conversations, verbal and visual, is so important. Friendships with each other is what life is all about. I, too, was waiting with breath holding, as you retold the story. I was so hoping your friend would win and felt the disappoint when he didn't. It was nice that you and others were there to share in his roller coaster of life.

michelle said...

Hey, I saw my name mentioned in your post below! How are you?
I don't think I have posted 500 words at once. Terrific blog!

X said...

Dang I'm visitor #3974...the tradition is broken! :P Although I could keep on

And OMG for your friend! I would have died being that close! And you know the station probably milked it so the anticipation was higher. They should have had a better prize for the runner-up tho!

Sounds like a great day none-the-less! It's funny how things sometimes work out ;)

Ellen said...

I came here when your stat counter was at 3983... hoping to be your 4000th visitor... but the counter is at 3997. Drat!
Oh well, it's only a matter of moments before you'll top the 4000 mark.... so congratulations are in order in advance!

Have a great day, and by tonight you'll have gone over and heading to 5000. (Why more people don't leave comments leaves me puzzled though!)

Ellen said...

Yahoo! I jumped around your links a bit, came back, and I'm 4000!

Raising a champagne glass in your honor for real now!

Lee Ann said...

Sounds incredible!
I hope you have a wonderful week Mike!

Kathleen Jennette said...

Geeezzzz...was I holding my breath or what!!! As if I was there!! Sorry about it being so close, but it sounds like the great day and friend chats rounded it all out. I will be up there next week visiting my mom in G.V. Still deciding to ride or rent in Auburn...Bugs and masks--somehow they go together. Thanks for the buzz on the bugs.

Michael K. Althouse said...

jen ~ Thanks so much. That was nearly a week ago and we're still talking about it.

ellen ~ WE thought so too. It's hard to expess what the mood was, I don't know if I really did it justice. Congrats on being visitor # 4,000 - perseverance pays off!

saur ~ blogger has been behaving badly, thanks for the email.

lux ~ coming from you, that means a great deal. I am humbled...

bb ~ it was crazy. it wasn't until it was down to just a few that we thought it really could happen.

michelle ~ did I drop your name? ;-'p
I'm usually just getting started at 500 words.

oilf ~ You're slipping, and I gave you updates too!

lee ann ~ it was, and thank you.

kt ~ I understand that if you're a member of HOG, there is a substantial discount on rentals in Rocklin - not sure about Auburn. The bugs are coming out just after sunset and they sure do love my headlight, consider yourself warned.