150 miles on the back of a Harley: A Lesson in Trust

The Harley

Originally posted November 20, 2011

"Do you have patience to wait til your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving til the right action arises by itself?"
--Lao Tzu

I’m having a hard time trusting the universe right now. Or rather, it’s not that I’m having a hard time trusting—it’s more like “Why am I still here? Am I insane to trust this? Am I looking at the world with Pollyanna, rose-colored glasses?”

I got to San Francisco five weeks ago. Since then, I have had a falling out with one of my dearest friends, I can’t seem to find any reliable source of income to save my life, I haven’t performed on stage or film in months and the littlest things make me burst out in tears. I feel a profound sense of failure much of the time and a general confusion about who I am and what I am supposed to be doing in the world. All I want to do is go home and have my mother take care of me.

“Who’s gonna save me!?”

“When is it all gonna pay off!?”

“I’m a good person, when do I get to be in the spotlight?!”

I hear my whiny little victim voice. I pay attention to her, listen to her, love her, and then keep going back into the fire.  Where I face all the ways I steal energy from other people. Where I flash a lot of sexy bravado, but run away at the most tender intimacy. Where I take shortcuts in getting what I want rather than standing in my power and simply asking. Where I kill other people (with a smile on my face) because I am secretly jealous/threatened/insecure.

And I am supposed to trust that everything is being perfectly handled by the universe to guide me in fulfilling my sacred contract?


A few weekends ago, I got an invitation to spend the night in Calistoga, right next to Napa. A night away from it all and among the beauty of wine country sounded like a dream to me, so I immediately said yes. The catch was that it was a 75-mile trip north and I would have to ride on the back of a motorcycle. Well, I’m a tough bitch, I thought, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Whoa. First of all I had some intense gear to wear, plus a heavy backpack. Second of all, the seat can get mighty painful to your lady parts after straddling it for some time. And third of all, there is no freakin’ seatbelt (windows, airbag, protection, etc.) on that thing. It’s just you, the asphalt and a lot of metal zipping by you at 80 miles per hour.

This was an experience in total trust. I had to trust that my driver knew how to handle the machine and not play my usual helpful-but-fearfully-controlling-backseat-driver. I had to pay constant attention to the road and to the turns. There is no enjoying the scenic view and jamming to your favorite tunes. You lean when he leans. You brace yourself for the bumps as they approach. You hold tighter as he accelerates. You remain still and centered as he slows down. It becomes an intense meditation—and if you check out in any way, there is no reset button. So even though there’s cold rain and wind on my thighs and my feet are vibrating intensely and my shoulders ache and my wrists are sore from gripping him and I am silently freaking out as we inch past 50…60…70 mph, I just stay focused on the ride and don’t let go.

Because I know it won’t last forever.

So this is where I am now. Through the crying and depression and lack of focus and intense fears and ugly parts of myself, I know it won’t last forever. And it is a necessary step on my path in order to enjoy the warm bath and fine wine to come. And I know it’s worth it. I can feel it deep within my core.

My night in Calistoga was an extraordinary collage of wine, food, spa and landscape that was well worth the price of cold fingers and a sore butt. And when I look at my desires for my life (to create films that bring the taboo into light and find the gift within it), I think to myself, “ Well, I suppose I should actually feel what it is I want to express if I am going to express it.”

So now, this trust has become sort of a game. Can I actually love my crying fits? Can I enjoy feeling the pain of a thousand unfulfilled desires burn through me? Is there a chance to “get off” in this wet, slimy, hairy underbelly of existence that keeps pulling me down?

Really, the choice is clear. Anything less than a full, surrendered “yes” is a step back towards suffering and victimhood.

Incidentally, the 75-mile ride back down to San Francisco, was a LOT friendlier. The sun was out, I knew how to handle myself on the bike, I had a sense of how long it was going to be and I asked for towel to cushion my ass. I suppose life really is just a practice in exploring our edges and pushing our boundaries beyond our known limits. And then that which we found unbearable before, becomes easier to hold as we expand.

That is, until an even scarier ride comes along…and then we do the whole thing all over again.