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Comfort Zones

Posted by on January 30, 2013

DCIM100GOPROThe article “Comfort Zones” by Bud Miller was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 12/23/2012.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” T.S. Eliot.

I’ve always loved that quote, but for me I’d alter it to “Only if you are willing to risk going too far can you possibly find out how far you can go”. This is my 50th post for RoadRUNNER and for me it’s a milestone of sorts. A few years ago I rode my motorcycle to visit my sister in North Carolina, as it turned out that ride altered the course of my life and in no small measure landed me here contributing to RoadRUNNER and looking ahead to new opportunities both in motorcycling and beyond.

The ways in which people affect the course of your life is never really apparent when it’s happening, but once changed you can easily see the course corrections when you stop to look back. My sister suggested that I start a group to meet fellow riders, which I did. It was not something I was sure I could do but I was sure I wanted to find out. Through that group I not only met a group of spirited, warm, and welcoming individuals, but also my best friend. All from the simple suggestion of someone I trust.

I have since stepped down from the leadership of the group. It was time and there are other challenges ahead that I want to focus on, writing more in particular. But I intend to keep in contact with the core members of the group, the guys who always showed up for the rides, the guys who, as it turns out, were the most knowledgeable and the most skilled.

Last night we got together for dinner at a local pub to swap stories, talk about upcoming rides, and to share a beer and a laugh. I found myself nostalgic about that ride years ago to see my sister. I thought about where I’d be now if I hadn’t gone beyond my comfort zone. I’d have missed the chance to spend the time I have with these guys, I’d have missed out on their wisdom, camaraderie, and humor.

Too often, yet quite understandably, we tend to associate with people who look like us, dress like us, are of similar age, etc. Motorcycling beautifully slices through all our filters and allows us to start from a set of common traits and to get to know people we may never have otherwise. I’ve said before that people usually have more in common than those things they allow to keep them apart.

“When the student is ready the teacher will appear” is a saying that I’ve always loved. Quite often you find yourself in a position in which you think you are the teacher, only to find you are, in fact, the student. I’ve learned from Harvey, Walter, Stan, Don, Ron, other members and friends of our group, and most of all, from Cori. I’ve learned a lot about riding, about friendship, and about my own capabilities, limitations, and capacity for joy; all this because I decided to take a long ride one day and go beyond my comfort zone. I will forever be thankful that I did.

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