29th August, 2013
I hope this finds you well.
It’s been a while since my last letter from the road…I believe I promised EXISTENCE and that lofty intention might have something to do with the lull in communication. Big talk indeed, yellow britches. Fortunately a dear friend and talented artist (you know who you are, heavenly creature) recently alerted me to a quote from the late great Jean-Jacques Rousseau:
“To live is not merely to breathe, it is to act; it is to make use of our organs, senses, faculties – all of those parts of ourselves which gives us the feeling of existence.”
Well, butter my muffin! Let me tell you, although my decision to hit the road on two wheels was in part financial, the bulging challenge of choosing the physical and mental exertion of staying upright in vaguely the right direction at terrific speeds over great distances seized me by my middle-aged lady parts. (And I don’t mind admitting that a gut-wrenching fear still builds up in the hour before getting on that beautiful beast, every time a first date…will we click? Am I wearing the right clothes? Will we make it to a second assignation?)
At 100mph the remotest shift of one’s body has a disproportionate effect on the journey. Modest pressure from the hip down onto a stirrup (as I girlishly think of them) is enough to alter direction and soar past most things. At slower speeds on sinuous roads the physical engagement is more involved, committed, requiring total concentration. I am both thrill-seeker and peripatetic fairground controller, toffee apple optional.
But it’s not all about the sticky white knuckle – one unexpected revelation of being on a bike is olfactory. The smells in the world bombard you shamelessly and although the lands between Leipzig and Dresden seemed mostly occupied by glue manufacturers, muck-spreaders and cod roe specialists competing for nasal attention, this could swiftly blend into wafts of fresh pine, delicious hints of bread, muddy tones lakeside…
My heart leaps and sings, my lungs draw deeply, my liver and kidneys brace themselves for the next coffee and yes, my stomach rules the world.
So I thank you, Jean Jacques Rousseau for giving focus to Veronica’s feelings and for helping her decipher the signs of the road.
Yours from Dubrovnik, existing in an easterly direction,
P.S. ex·ist·ence (igˈzistəns)
- the fact or state of living or having objective reality
- continued survival
- a way of living
- any of a person’s supposed current, future, or past lives on this earth
- a being or entity
- all that exists.