Actually, this captures motorcycling precisely, and may explain the overlap between the pilot population and the biker crowd. That moment of equilibrium - to me at least - often comes when you roll that power on.
I spent much of my early adulthood as a jet pilot, learning very quickly that, not only can't you always save the world, sometimes you cannot even save yourself. But the effort is often worth it. If you're lucky, your brushes with life will only leave a few small physical scars. If I raise up my bangs, right at the hairline, there’s a tiny, faint scar from a tumble off my bike down a hill as a kid. There's a small ding in my forehead where the bungee cord of the J60-P-3 turbojet engine cover whacked me on the ramp at warp speed when I lost the wrestling contest with it. But for most people, like me, the bigger scars are internal, and you only touch them softly, with trepidation, not remorse, in the late night hours of "what if’s."Pilots get that. Adventurers get that. So, usually, does anyone who has challenged their fears. There are times when it seems as if the world is going to pieces around you, a sense of this enormous elemental power beyond your reason or control. You think "what am I doing; this is nuts!" As you squeak past the reaper one more time, you say “well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought” already planning on when you will chase the experience again. For you are called to the altar of the infinite, the bread of life on the tongue, tasting faintly of salt, the sweetness, just underneath. It's reaching your hand out to receive glory even as your world cranks up to red line with the knowledge that if mistakes are made, there will be no saving grace; you may be lost. But if are not, then the world will, for that instant, have one moment of equilibrium, of order, of peace.
Pilots get that. Adventurers get that. So, usually, does anyone who has challenged their fears.
But challenging your fears doesn't mean forgetting your memories, or putting down that mirror that shows us who we are - scars and worry lines and all:
A quiet morning walk doesn't just carry you across the local landscape, it takes you across the landscape of memory, to places long past which we can only visit in our dreams. Jack has been gone these twenty years now, but I still hear his deep throated bark, outraged at the swimming otter's insolence. #1 Son hasn't been eight years old for ever and ever, but I still hear his child's voice rising with outrage that the bird is back at the pond. I hear the frustration in the voice of young #2 Son, asking where the beaver is, knowing he is about to be delighted when he finally catches a glimpse of it.This mirror of Barkley isn't about him, at least if we read it for what it says to us. About us. Brigid sure has a rare talent to write a book about me and Jack, and a young #1 Son, and a younger #2 Son, and Ivan the Terrier.
Ivan the Terrier loves these walks. The chance to sniff around, to catch new smells and sights from a place that's not his yard keeps him mentally sharp. The walk through old but cherished memories is good for me, too. Even if the path is crowded with Jack and some small children.
And you. Yes, and Barkley too.
Her's is an astonishing gift, and those of you who have yet to read this are lucky indeed.