Is there really an afterlife?

A part of me wants to believe that there is one but the other part of me does not. The same goes that a part of me believes in a higher power and the other part of me do not believe that there is only one God. As you may remember that I’m still get upset when someone say that “God has other plans for him” and I’m still angry at the higher power for taking him away from me too soon.

So you may be asking why I’m questioning myself about God and the afterlife. Well something happened recently that is once again making me question my belief.

Let me start from the beginning of what happened. Since my husband passed away, he left quite a mess on the property for me to deal with. My son and his girlfriend have been coming up every other weekend helping me clean up the yard and taking pictures of the motorcycles (twenty-three of them), vehicles and miscellaneous items to put on Craigslist to sell. After a long day, I decided to treat them to dinner at an Italian restaurant. Since we were close to the cemetery, I wanted to head over there to show them the paver that was installed. While we were there we noticed a bike that sort of look like a TW200 and decided to take a closer look. The closer we got, we realized it wasn’t a TW200 but it sister bike the Yamaha BW200. It was only produced for 4 years from 1985 to 1989 and the biggest difference between the two bikes is that the BW had a fat front tire as well on the back whereas the TW has a skinny front tires and a fat tire on the back.

yamaha_bw200

While looking at the bike, we noticed a lizard under the bike, not just an ordinary average looking small lizard that you skirting across the sidewalk. It was a size of a gecko. The kids and I looked at each other and shook our heads. We decided to pay a visit to the Percheron draft horse that resides at the cemetery. As we were walking over there, we noticed that the lizard was following us. We stopped midway and so did the lizard. We continue to take several steps and then stop, so did the lizard. While we were at the corral, the lizard stayed a few feet away from us. We kept looking at it and it kept looking at us. Finally, it was getting dark and we decided it was time to head on home. As we were driving out of the cemetery, we had to pass the corral on the way out and that where we saw the lizard again, inside of the corral with the horse. My late husband nickname was lizrdbrth and he loved horses and motorcycles (as his friends would say “steel horses”). As matter of fact, he rode his horse across the United States on a horse following Route 66.

When I got home, I had to research to see what kind of lizard it was since I never seen it before. I stared at my computer screen in disbelief and started laughing when I discovered it was called a Mojave fringe-toed lizard. My late husband favorite place to ride his TW200 was the Mojave Road.

MojaveLizard

Does this experience convince me that there is an afterlife? I don’t know yet but it sure does make me question my belief system. Like Jon Meacham once said “Religious belief, like history itself, is a story that is always unfolding, always subject to inquiry and ripe for questioning. For without doubt there is not faith.”

Motorcycle Camaraderie

The Merriam-Webster of camaraderie is “a feeling of good friendship among the people in a group”.

Forum

Why is it that when we post on a forum such as Advrider.com or the tw200forum.com there is such a shared fellowship among complete strangers?

Group Ride

What is it that motorcycle riders are willing to meet up with other each to do a ride to a local destination?

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Here is a group of riders that we met through the TW200forum going out for a ride to check out the giant rock in Landers, CA

Wave

Why is that motorcycle riders are willing to wave to a complete stranger on a motorcycle whereas we wouldn’t wave to each other walking past each other on a sidewalk?

Encouragement

What is it that fellow motorcycle rider who you only met once 6 months ago willing to go extra miles to give you support and encouragement on your journey?

RTWladies

I first met these amazing ladies at the Horizon Unlimited event in Cambria, CA back in October 2013 then ran into them again at the Overland Expo in Flagstaff, AZ in May 2014.

Charity

What is it that motorcycle riders willing to do multiple charitable ride for various recipients.  These fundraisers range anywhere from major non-profit organizations such the Toys for Tot or for an individual who is ill and needs help with medical bills?

RanchRiders

Here are the Ranch Riders of Apple Valley doing a charity poker run to raise money for a medical van.

It seems to me that most motorcyclists often feel like they belong to a big community, and that sensation gives us something in common; we share a bond that sets us apart from the rest of the networking community.

 

Motorcycle hand signals

Awhile back when I got my new bike the Honda CTX700, I wanted to try something new so I met up with the Southern California chapter of the Women in the Wind where we went on a 300 miles ride with 30 other women riders through Borrego Springs.  Before the ride, they had a safety meeting which includes going over the motorcycle hand signals.

I was intrigued since American Sign Language (ASL) is my first language and I wanted to see how similar or different the hand signals were.  Actually the only similarity I can see is the sign for refreshment where both sign show a hand pointing to the mouth.

ASL_eat

ASL for refreshment

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Motorcycle hand signals for refreshment

 

 

 

 

The biggest difference is the sign for police.  People ask me a lot how hard is it to learn sign language and tell them that it is not really that hard since a lot of the signs visually represent their meaning.  For example, ASL sign for cop is your right hand in the shape of a ‘C’ place over the heart which signified the badge.

police1

So when the motorcycle rider tap the top of their helmet to represent police I can only guess represent the siren that is place on top of the police car.

122-1301-05-o+motorcycle-hand-signals+head-tap

So when I got back home, I had to do some research to see when and who invented the motorcycle hand signals.  Here is what I found on the internet.

Even though I can’t find any history on the hand signals but did you know that Blinkers, or turn signals, were by silent film star (and car enthusiast) Florence Lawrence in 1914?  They first appeared in 1938, when they made their debut on a brand-new Buick.  However, they didn’t become standard on passenger cars until 1950’s and they weren’t standard on motorcycles until 1973.

Although most modern motorcycles come equipped with standard safety gear like turn signals and hazards, basic hand signals allow motorcyclist to become their own sort of safety device by clearly communicating with drivers and other bikers.

So why we’re still using hand signals? The reality is that while motorcycles are less visible than cars, motorcycle riders themselves are actually much easier to see than their “caged” counterparts behind the wheel. By using hand signals, riders can let vehicles around them know their intentions and can warn other riders about potential hazards ahead.

As for ASL, it officially originated in 1817 by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet but signed language has been used long before that by hearing families with deaf children by employing an ad-hoc home sign which often reaches a much higher levels of sophistication than gestures used by hearing people in spoken conversation.

There are also evidences that as early as 1541 at first contact by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, there were reports that the Plains Indians used hand signs to communicate among tribes of different languages.

So it seems that it is just human nature to try to communicate one way or another whether it is via our hands gestures or verbally.

So what type of motorcycle do you ride?

I ride two types of motorcycle, a dual-sport bike and a street bike.  About five years ago, I got tired of riding as a pillion on my late husband’s bike and decided it was time for me to learn how to ride my own motorcycle.  As my late husband would say, I don’t reach very far from the ground so I was limited in the choices of motorcycle since most dual-sport minimum seat height were at least 33 inches high.  So we went for the TW200 (T-Dub) as my first bike to learn on.  This is where our love affair began for this bike.  We went on group trail ride and met an amazing group of people because of this bike.  We rode it everywhere, even on our honeymoon via Route 66.

Yamaha TW200

It’s a dual-sport bike with 196cc 4-stroke single cylinder engine with a big fat rear tire.  Yamaha first introduced this bike in 1987 and little has changed over the last 27 years except the change from drum brake to disc brake, switch to a cv carburetor and the removal of the kick starter.

It’s achieved cult status among motorcycle rider of all types due to the low seat, the low speed, light weight and the fat tire to handle any type terrains.  Basically, it is all around fun motorcycle to ride on the dirt and around town.

PurpleAndWildflowers

As the year went on, it was time for me to get a bigger bike to do more freeway riding and my first street bike was a 1993 Kawasaki Vulcan 500.  I rode it several times but we were still riding the T-Dub a whole lot more than our street bike even though it can’t go faster than 60 mph.  Everywhere we went, people always stopped to ask us questions about our little bike.  That never happened when we rode our street bike.

Now fast forward to now, I wanted to get back to riding my street bike more often and realized that I no longer have a mechanic in my life to service the Vulcan which I know nothing about.  So, I figured it was time to put my big panties on and take the bike to dealer to get it serviced.  They called me after an hour with the bad news.  The right piston was bad and it was going to cost more to fix it then what I paid for it.  I felt so lost not being able to ride to find my serenity and to feel closer to him and pissed off at him for not keeping up on the maintenance on my bike.

Once again, I had to learn the meaning of “One Day at a Time”, I had to step back and realize that since I no longer have a mechanic in my life so I needed to change my lifestyle and buy a brand new “ready to ride” bike.  So, I sold the Vulcan as is and started window shopping for a dream bike. Unfortunately, I realized that I had a lot of medical bills still to pay and would never be able to afford a new bike for awhile.

Even though I’m 45 years old but I’m still the baby in the family.  My father saw how I was longing to ride and realized that I needed to ride to find my inner peace, offered to help finance the new bike.  With the help of my son, we found the perfect bike for me which was the new Honda CTX700.  As of today, I’m riding every chance I get and already have 1,200 miles on it.

Honda CTX700

In 2013, Honda introduced the CTX700 to attract new riders to motorcycling and to bring back the experience rider looking something that is more practical for the everyday transportation.  It also has a low seat at 29 inches and light weight at 494 pounds.  In addition to the light weight, the engine has a low center of gravity for better handling.  The look is a cross between a cruiser and a sport bike.

The bike is relatively new but could imagine that will also attract a cult following for all type of riders as well.

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Even though I’m riding the street bike more often these days, I still prefer to ride my T-Dub which is my first love.  Also, riding the T-Dub forces me to slow and take the back road instead of the freeway.  This brings a quote to mind by Charles Kuralt that always reminds me that sometimes we need to slow down in order to see the beauty around us.

 “Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.” 

Why would you do such a crazy thing?

Now that I have published my desire to pursue the dreams that my late husband I had wanted to do next year, I’m getting a lot of questions, looks and concerns about why would I do such a crazy adventure on a motorcycle and alone.

*         How will you support this trip financially?

*        What will you do about a job when you get back?

*       What will you do if you break down or get sick?

*         How will you protect yourself from dangers?

The questions above are the reasons why I haven’t left yet.  I’m still in the preparation stage and still have to deal with the sale of the estate which will help provide for this trip.  Believe it or not but I did learn something in Girl Scout; “Be Prepared” or was that from being a Den Mom in Boy Scout.  Anyway, I guess practice will make the journey go a bit smoother, I hope.

The questions below are the reason I’m hoping to figure out but I do realize that I may or may not find them but I will never know until I try.  One thing I do know that I don’t want to have is regrets for not trying to find the answers that I’m looking for?

*        What if you don’t find closure that you’re looking for?

*         What if you don’t find serenity that you’re seeking?

*        What if you don’t figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life?

MotorcycleSerenity

You may not understand my motivations or desires to pursue this dream but this poem below may help you with some insight.  This was written by a friend that my late husband and I met through the TW200 community.  I’m grateful that I have his permission to share this poem with all of you.  He and his wife have had an amazing journey in life as well. I hope that I can write their story of experience, strength and hope with their permission someday.

Driven by Death

By Jeff Bowman

 I’m driven by death to live

This is not a new concept, it is just one, that I’m now grasping deeper

 Life is short, too short in so many ways

Life is also a gift, a gift not to be frittered away

 Life is real

Death is inevitable 

I think what death wants to teach us is how to maximize life

If we are willing to listen we can hear the sound of it approaching

If we are awake in our soul we’ll rise up to meet it

We should not be found hiding from death as if it cannot find us

We should not be found denying death as if it isn’t real

We should be found living

 Living life to the maximum extent we can, living life the way we want it, not how others tell us to live

We can live it how ever we please: loving, exploring, experiencing, laughing, seeking, questioning, creating, dreaming, caring, helping, and growing all the way until the end

In fact – we are living it in some manner – I just want to be consciously aware of the “how?”

 What about the theology of death?  Questions abound like: Is there an “afterlife?”

Sure I have my beliefs and I’m persuaded in them (and as a true seeker, could be persuaded out of them) but you know what, when it is all said and done I don’t have a vote on the reality of them!  They are real to me now and I love to ponder and think, to reason and debate.  But in reality I don’t have a vote on their actuality.  But I do know this: I’m going to die. 

But in case you’d like to know, my theology of death points me to God and resurrection.  This makes death only a “dirt nap” from which I’ll awake and stand in the presence of the God of all grace on a new earth.  And since I like naps and I like waking up from naps, the idea of resurrection comforts me.

 I must die alone, i.e. no one can do it for me.  If the timing of my death allows, then just like my birth, I want the lovers of my life to help me transition into this final nap.

 I’m not thinking that I’m going to avoid this final call

Nor do I think I’m in any denial, quite the contrary

I just want death to be my daily reminder to live

To want to daily ask myself am I living in such a way that honors deaths arrival?

 Forgive me that if in my pursuit of life I don’t do it the way others think it should be done – but hey, they can live their life their way.

Realize that for me, I’m living with the awareness that I’ve got an appointment that I’ve got to keep – with death

 So, if you find me looking around, pursuing passion with eyes and heart wide open like a little child, and pursuing experiences that you don’t understand, just remember and rejoice with me as I’m wanting to greet death with the best gift I can give – a full life of me.

 Allow others to live their life, to follow their heart, to listen to the way death whispers to them to live.

Listen, embrace, and love unconditionally those around us for they too are in the journey.

 Death creates life.

Life honors the God of the universe, the divine of self, and the divine of fellow humans.