Lessons Learned in Life… Self Will

A few weeks I had the incredible privilege of riding my Harley Davidson Street glide Special across country! One of my bucket list items coming to fruition! Me & a dear friend of mine left the Quad Cities on Friday, July 17th, not to be seen again around home until Saturday, July 25th… so I thought!!

In order to avoid going through a moment by moment account of the trip (although for anyone who enjoys the freedom of living a week in the mountains with nothing more than a motorcycle, travel bag strapped to the back a few hundred in cash and 3 visa cards (to ensure funds did not become an issue), I am more than willing to elaborate in as much detail as one could stand… lol)

So, getting to the lesson. I have dedicated the past several years to understanding, developing growing and sharing about my God Within. Christians refer to it as the Holy Spirit, which I believe it to be. Buddhism refers to it as “The God Within”, which to me is the same. Regardless of what religion defines that inner connection, all the areas I’ve studied all break it down to that inner connection to something greater than self. Intuition is another common word I’ve heard & utilized to describe the God within me, or my soul.

Getting back to the story, the overall trail was through Iowa & Nebraska, into Colorado (Estes Park down to Buena Vista, up to Aspen, then south to Poncha Springs, south west through Durango and million dollar highway of 550 and into Utah for the second half our the trip). Like last year’s trip, we end up adding more and more as we traveled. This is so easy to do when up against a timeframe.

Now, I’ve spent a lot of time sharing about the incredible spiritual lessons I’ve been learning over the past couple years. Things like how I’ve felt that inner spirit leading me and all the awesome things that have come about based on shutting my mind of and being, versus doing life. I believe that I have been what I might call a bit too confident in my abilities to set down self will and follow the direction from that inner quite voice. This came into a very clear message on July 21st, 8:00 pm mountain time. A lesson that I pray lives with me the rest of my life…

We left Poncha Springs, CO around 8:30 am to head to Moab Utah (where we planned to remainder of our trip before heading back to Iowa on Friday). This was about a 300 mile trip, expected to last around 5-7 hours with stops. When we left the hotel I did my normal praying, asking God “to please keep us safe through the day’s journey”. Once we arrived in Durango, we stopped in at a local Harley Dealership, bought the normal shirt souvenirs and I was talking to a guy working there who told me about the million dollar highway. I instantly added this to our agenda for the day. (He did say that people come from all over the world to ride that trek. Quick calculation showed we would still be in Utah by 8:30 pm, more than enough time to avoid night riding and possible deer encounters.
Now remember, I’m still very confident that my inner spirit is leading me, even though I felt that slight hesitation (WARNING 1) about adding an extra 300 miles to the daily ride. So off we went…

At one of our photo shoot stops we met a brother biker who rode up from Louisiana, was on a three week trip to end in Sturgis for the annual biker convention. During our conversation about comparing travels, he was surprised we were planning on traveling all the way to Moab that day. (WARNING 2), I immediately dismissed what he said, thinking “if I had the time available you do, of course I would go at a slower pace”. We ended up seeing him two other spots along the day. Once on top of a mountain where we stopped to have lunch, overlooking the most picturesque view of mountains, roads & rivers all co existing I have ever had the privilege of seeing. This fellow biker asked again if we altered our plans (WARNING 3), this one had me thinking.

Looking back, that inner voice spoke at a louder volume than I can remember feeling/hearing before. As self will gets stronger and more stubborn, the easier it is to ignore the inner spirit. And my mind can be so convincing, as at that time I felt like My decision to go forward was still being led by my God!! The final time we saw this gentleman, he was parked outside a hotel, unloading his gear from his bike for the night. That was around 5:30 or 6:00 in Silverton, CO (175 miles, 3 hours away from Moab). (WARNING 4).

There were at least two other things that happened that were telling me to stop and get back on God’s time, instead of mine. But I just knew we needed to get to Moab! And we needed to do so before dark, so we didn’t have to worry about some unlikely encounter with deer, or worse, Elk!!

While speeding along at the posted speed of 55 miles per hour on Highway 90, at approximately 8:00 (40 minutes outside Moab), a deer jumped out on the road about even with my front tire, stopped for a fraction of a moment and lunged right into the side of me! I’m not sure if his impact broke my leg or if it was the steel bar in the ground holding a reflector that one of the two of us hit hard enough to bend to the ground. My bike was forced off the road and into the shallow ditch where it went down, slid out of the ditch across a gravel road and into the ditch on the other side. I stopped less than two feet shy of a wooden fence post and barb wire. My bike was mangled and pieces of it scattered all around the area from the point of contact with the deer to its landing point, 50-70 feet away.

I never lost consciousness, which I can tell ya, is pretty weird to see a live deer, gravel and weeds travel so quickly before my eyes. Other than a broken leg, I have a shoulder that will required reattachment of the bicep, reattachment of the rotator cuff to the shoulder and a level 3 tear repair of the rotator cuff. Also, I now have a new level of appreciation for anyone who experiences a gravel scrub bath!!

Even through this self will run riot, I was blessed beyond belief… for instance, if the whole event happened 100 yards with direction, instead of a shallow ditch and gravel, I would have been sent down a deep ditch with scattered boulders… The only house around was across the street from the accident and housed the towns EMT… It could have been a larger deer or Elk… I could have experienced life altering head injuries due to not wearing a helmet.

As I tried my best to lay around the hotel on Wednesday, so I could be driven to Salt Lake City Thursday for a flight back to Iowa, I kept thinking about all the little signs I avoided, at which point I could clearly see how I had tricked myself into following my plan instead of following that inner spirit. I carry a lot of gratitude for how strong that intuition has grown to be and a new appreciation for strength my own will can have in my choices. It reminds me to slow down, spend more time in being and to count my blessings more often than I have been!!

Namaste,

Joseph

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