Many old riders experienced the loss of friends roads companions, raising questions “why?”, “worth it?” when?”

Animals jumping out of nowhere, vehicles on the wrong side of the road, diesel-fluids-mud-sand on the surface. ..hazards are endless and always ready to take the rider by surprise.

Experience, focused attention, longer vision, better planning and restraint may prevent mistakes and/or reduce the consequences but. .. it could, as well , induce a serious anxiety disorder.

With the high temperature of summer most of the secondary roads in Turkey exude liquid tar. To absorb it, a mix of sand and cement is spread from road maintenance trucks at regular intervals.

And between two of these intervals I entered, marginally “hot”, a well-known corner, taking the line that I knew to be safe and fast.  Experience, attention, restraint meet now an unstable, slippery sand-cum-cement patch  suggesting a rapid loss of front traction.

Options: slide and trust tyre to regain traction on time or call back the leaning and open the corner. I went for the second solution, opened the corner ending on the left side of the road. No incoming traffic, no problems, swerve back to the correct lane and forget it.

Forget it? Maybe not so quickly. A vehicle on its own lane at that time and in that place would have brought serious body harm or death. I lived on touch of good reaction and tons of luck; a near-death-experience to use as warning and source of meditation. Why not me? Why was I spared?

Dying for the glory in Syria or for greed in Burkina Faso or for love in Las Vegas or for sand-cum-cement in a corner of Turkey… where is the difference?

The simple and lapalissian fact is that we all die: we do not consciously die “for” or “because”. Death has sense only for the ones who stay, for the ones that, so far, death ignored and left behind for future harvester.

We keep discussing the reasons and the circumstances of death keeping the memory of our defunct friends alive for a while. Then we keep going without taking lesson as I came around a corner on wrong side without taking lesson.

If we were kind and faithful we will recognize that time cannot take the dead away: in a corner of our memory they live with us, they sleep with us, they ride with us. We often ignore their presence, we call ”morbid” to transform the absence into a presence, we like or we feel the need to forget. Forgetfulness is maybe the price we have to pay to be alive or at least to be unconsciously alive.

Dying is senseless but it is at the same time what makes sense of living. And here the stone in the pond: to enjoy a ride we have to be ready to die. If facing death is not, even remotely, in the program then it is better to sell the bike, to sell the car, to sell the house, to sell the…

Sell it all, death has already a date and I must  be prepared to leave just light and fleeting memories  behind.

By Paolo Volpara

"Si sta come d'autunno sugli alberi le foglie"

3 thoughts on “Death, companion on the road?”
  1. Excellent article. Death is ! I was told recently that the “Fear” part of our brain is not fully in place until we are 25 ish. Hence we send children to fight the wars of Old Men.
    Do we learn “Death” or does it develop as per “Fear” ?
    My current job has brought me in contact with Death quite a lot. The moment of , the immediate moment after , the passing of the death message to family and then the bureaucracy afterwards.
    I carry a special coin with me for the ferryman to get me over the Styx. I always have my ID / dog tags on. Suppose this is from visiting war graves where the marker only says ” Here Lies the Unknown Solder”. I have no problem with Death but I would prefer that my passing over is noted.

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