Thoughts by Richard Bleil
This has been a difficult week. The failure of the motorcycle course is really only part of the problem. See, that failure has amplified my father’s all-too-critical voice, brought up the plethora of failures I’ve had previously, and all of this has been driving me through a horrible depression.
Now the question is how to move on.
Honestly, when things like this happen, I do feel it is healthy to let yourself feel the loss and the psychological journey through the resulting depression. But there also comes a point where you just have to move on, and that’s where I find myself today. Enough of feeling sorry for myself, it’s time to move on.
Fortunately, I have a few things in my favor. For example, I am something of a workaholic. I continue to go to work, not so much for me, but as a professor for the benefit of my students. This combines my drive to work with service to others, both great ways to be sure that my failure doesn’t become completely debilitating. On top of that, I have a new house that I’m hoping to close on soon. Tomorrow (as in the day after I write this blog which is a few days early) I plan to do another walkthrough on the house and see if I can find an issue with the plumbing. The house passed every inspection except the plumbing which failed the pressure test. As it turns out, plumbing pressure tests (apparently) involve pressurizing the pipes with air. I don’t know how quickly or slowly the system lost pressure, but it also means the problem could be as simple as a leaky faucet, so tomorrow I’m hoping to look for signs of leaks, and perhaps more importantly, cut-off valves. There have been two extensions built onto this house, so I’ll be looking to see where the plumbing can be closed in case of a serious issue. I might also see if I can’t rent the equipment to perform the pressure test myself.
All of this helps, but is there anything good that can come out of my failed motorcycle experiment? That’s the issue, and the way I like to deal with things. Once my head and heart have returned to a healthier place, I look to see if I can find positives from the negative experience. This is not unlike art, where artists will often play with the “negative spaces” in the visual arts. These are the places where the painting is not: the shadows behind the portrait, the open spaces between the trees. True artists will design that into the painting, molding it and shaping it to make the entire painting richer and fuller.
Here’s the truth about the lessons. First of all, whether I decide to continue to work towards a motorcycle license, I’ve learned a lot. I can now hop onto a motorcycle and drive it, albeit with a high probability of crashing it, but nonetheless more than I could before. I do now have the option of buying a cheap motorcycle and practicing, maybe in parking lots, until I feel better, but even if I give up on the concept of motorcycles altogether, I have learned. For example, now I understand why sometimes motorcycles seem to be far too close to one side of the lane or the other. It has also taught me to think more about my own driving habits, and road safety.
Second, even though I failed to successfully complete the course, I did it. I tried it. I stepped far outside of my own comfort zone and gave it a try. The reality is that many people have things they wish to try, but never will. This was a risk; I could have injured myself, and I did lose some money. I put on a brave face and probably portrayed myself as far more confident than I actually was, but I faced my fears, and tried it anyway. There are many people in my life that I know would love to laugh at me for failing, but the funny thing is that the people who would laugh rarely face their own fears.
I’ve learned about myself as well. I’ve learned when my father’s voice enters my head, and paid attention to the decay of confidence as it occurred. I’ve seen the signs, and although I failed to quell the decay, at least I now know how to recognize it. That’s a step, I guess, something to look for in the future. I’m guessing I need actual therapy to learn how to deal with such a decay of confidence, but it’s a start. Sadly, I’ve also learned my physical limitations. My legs always were very powerful, but this past weekend I had a hard time simply pushing the bike, much to my surprise. The question is if I can reverse this physical decay, but at least I recognize that it is occurring. Again, that recognition is the first step to mitigation.