I spent much of yesterday feeling terrified. There were very few reasons to feel terrified, but my emotional terrain doesn't usually make rational sense.
My spouse really wanted to do the POAT (Police Officers Assistance Trust) ride, and I said yes. It would be our first ride in a really big group, and it made me feel a bit tense from the beginning. But yesterday was a gorgeous day, after weeks of rain, and I stilled my anxieties.
We were going to meet my brother-in-law and his wife at a Chevron station near the police station where the riders would assemble. My spouse wrote down the directions--but somehow, he put in an extra expressway.
Words cannot express how much I hate being lost in Miami, where highway signs have numbers but no names, and everyone is just expected to remember which expressway is named after which tropical animal or tree. Various people speak various languages, and no one knows directions.
Happily, we were able to call my spouse's brother, who got us back to where we needed to be. We joined up with other riders, and once I realized that the ride started at 10:30 not 9:30, I felt better. We were early, not late!
The ride itself was equally wonderful and annoying. It was wonderful to have a police escort and to have the roads closed. We didn't need to fear an 18 wheeler truck merging into our lane while we were still in it. It was wonderful being part of such a huge group. It was neat to see such a variety of bikes and riders.
It was annoying that there were still times that we came to sudden slow downs. Luckily, my brother-in-law warned us that it would happen.
We got to a resort-like place in Islamorado, where we parked the bikes, walked around, and sat by the unlit firepit.
We decided not to eat at the resort, because the lines were so long since 800 bikers had descended on the place. We rode back to Key Largo and stopped, rode back to my brother-in-law's house and stopped, and finally made our way home.
The wind had picked up and the ride back was scary at times as the wind buffeted us. I spent time thinking about the presentation I'll make at church today and thinking about the essay for Living Lutheran which is due tomorrow. In this way, I beat back my fear.
What made me feel such fear throughout the day? Fear of the unknown, fear of the inherent danger in riding a motorcycle and in South Florida traffic in general, fear of the mechanical things that can go wrong (the bike had sputtered a bit with some attempts to start it during the day). On the back of a motorcycle, there is no illusion of being in control--and there's the realization that throughout most of our lives, we really not are in control. One 18 wheeler making an error in merging can wipe out the heaviest of cars.
The fear wasn't enough to keep me from doing it again. And as time goes on, I'll probably forget how afraid I was all day. I did wonder why we exhort people to feel the fear and do it anyway. There are events that will indeed help me grow and become a stronger/better person. I'm not sure that my various levels of anxiety yesterday will enrich me that way. I thought about categorizing the fears that are worth it and the fears that are not--but I decided it all probably depended on the individual involved.
We got things put away and took showers and then it was off to a wonderful concert put on by the Broward Symphony. They ended with a rousing rendition of "Sleigh Ride." We slept well.
Today will be another whirlwind of sorts. I'm leading the 9:45 service, speaking about Mary the mother of our Lord and me at the 11:00 service, followed by caroling to shut ins. And then we will come home and collapse in a heap. But it will be the good kind of collapsing.