As one of my friends recently wrote on his facebook profile, “I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go.”
For many of us it’s back to mind-numbing traffic, deadlines, too much caffeine, and stress. What I miss most is the sense of freedom I experienced during the holidays riding pillion with my partner on his Suzuki. Although, physically, it is a lot more strenuous than taking to the open road on four wheels (a roof can be very advantageous), it is one way to travel in a more unconventional manner. On a motorbike you become part of the scenery – you can feel the cool shadows of trees growing along the road; you experience the sudden dip in temperature as you pass over a river, and you can smell the rain or mud, the sun-baked tar, or – less poetically – chicken farms, dust and pollution. When you ride, you are more in tune with subtle changes in geography, and each town and city has its own smell and mood.
You can’t help but feel uninhibited and a little devil-may-care with all that horsepower at your disposal. There is an unmistakable nonchalance inherent in the purr of the engine and the smooth way the machine leans into curves, and it’s this feeling – free and a little crazy – that I miss most.
Freedom. To me, it is the colour blue. The midnight black 1967 Chevrolet Impala from the series Supernatural. The immensity of mountain ranges that cradle the sky. Distant horizons. U2, Depeche Mode, and the Stereophonics. Autumn. A wolf’s howl – the siren song of wild and free spaces. And, when I was a young girl, the thrum of traffic outside my grandmother’s small flat in Joburg that lulled me to sleep at night.
Maybe that is why I often associate freedom with movement – a lack of restriction, exploring, road trips and adventuring.
But how do you feel free when the weight of the working world and its rules and routines overwhelms you? Is it even possible to feel free? I hope that freedom can be a state of mind, as well as a long stretch of highway to a new destination; allowing yourself to get lost, swept up and swept away. I hope that freedom can be found in the choices I make to continue following my goals, dreaming big, being spellbound by fiction and imagination, and letting go of the restrictions in my own mind – the fears of failure and inadequacy – letting go of those days of intense frustration over small minutiae and small-minded people.
I hope that freedom is all about perception. On the motorbike we still travel the same highways that we do in the car, but the experience is very different, and I think it is because our perceptions are different – we feel free and defiant – and the road changes for us. It reflects our “biker insouciance” and we experience it as more electrifying.
I hope I can be like a Jedi knight and bend my perceptions to ease the weight of that tedium. I want to find freedom in sharing laughter with my partner, in books, and music and eccentricity, and in being a writer. This has been a long journey for me. In fact, a journey that spans 14 years of my life, starting in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape as a journalism student who went on to spend many years searching for a higher purpose. A purpose that was always with me, but was obscured by faulty perceptions.
I would like to think that I have found some clarity on the back of a Suzuki – with the wind bearing down, and storm clouds racing us on the horizon.
Maybe finding our purpose frees us. Here’s hoping.