I hope you like pictures of tacos. After months of delays and planning I got most of my ducks in a row for my trip down to Baja, California, Mexico. After a little over two weeks I can say it’s just what I needed. I had to leave a few loose ends up there in America, but very little stress has been able to follow me down here. This is more than just a relief from the stresses themselves.
You see, my concern for some time has been that the cascade of bad luck I’ve had for the past ten months or so is because of me, not luck. Most people who have a frustrating life have it because some blind spot in their relationship to the world is causing them to smack into unexpected results. Think of a duck swimming against a current but not knowing there is a current against them. They keep trying but they get nowhere.
When this type of thing happens to us we have a tendency to see it as an unfairness in the world. We want it to be anything but our own fault. Our unmet expectations are because other people suck, god hates us, we just can’t catch a break…anything but us. It’s more empowering if you can take on life and find the things you are responsible for, because those are the things you can control.
In that vein I was worried I had some blind spot that was sending me face-first into the universe’s fist. It wasn’t a “woe is me” self-pity party, but a genuine inquiry. Why was everything coming at me the hard way? What am I doing to bring it at me that way? But lo and behold, after two weeks in Mexico, trouble has not continued to follow me.
I love the saying, “wherever you go, there you are.” It is true, because running from your problems won’t make problems go away unless you change the causes: you’ll just have new (yet strangely familiar) problems wherever you go. However, I believe a more accurate truism is, “wherever you go, there you are…but setting still matters.” It isn’t as catchy of course, but it’s accurate. You can have a positive attitude and be in a SuperMax prison, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t have any easier time staying positive if you were set free.
Likewise, the problems that life in the US had brought me were things I was seeking out, but when I attempted to deal with these problems the thing I ended up with was more problems. I had decided I was going to take an active role in discovering a way of being that would make me happy, not just the pursuit of hedonistic rewards like winning a motorcycle race or eating way too much at the all-you-can-eat sushi spot.
By turning my handlebars south and opening the throttle I had to do more than just run from my problems, and I did. Down here I am not back in the same rut I find myself in whenever I settle into a rhythm. Instead of dreading the day and trying to make something of it, I look forward to it. There are still worries, but a life with no worries is actually pretty boring. If you don’t like the problems in your life…find bigger problems. It may sound crazy, but pettiness in our lives will make us petty people. Having a problem like, “I want to make a lasting contribution to my community” is a better problem than “I’m sick of my roommate/spouse/whatever leaving their dirty dishes in the sink.”
It’s no miracle cure of course, and I can still beat myself up for not accomplishing tasks as well or as fast as I anticipated, but in the end I’m happy to just be on the playing field. It’s too easy to suddenly realize we are on the bench, screaming from the sidelines about how the game should be played, yet the game being played is the game of our existence: the game of life.
For me specifically, the trip down here was supposed to focus on “book and body:” get healthy and start drafting my first book. What I noticed within a few days was that what I needed to do was actually relax. As in, actually. Moving from goal to goal is usually how I operate, and the act of relaxing is more like what other people would call burnout or exhaustion. That’s not relaxing. If you’re either intensely engaged in life or intensely avoiding it, you’re never relaxing: you’re doing everything with intensity.
So, now that I’m in Baja and staying with my friends Wilder and Aleks I can truly relax and reassess. And yes, those are their real names. They created and ran Moto Guild, which sponsored my sidecar racing team for many years, including when I set the sidecar record at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 2016. After selling the business they took a sabbatical that dropped them on the Baja peninsula as COVID brought lockdowns all over the world.
They eventually bought a house on the beach and have been building quite the Shangri La, so when they offered me a place to stay after I sold my own home and took to the road, I didn’t hesitate. I was supposed to be down here by mid-April, but it wasn’t until late- May that I could finally round up all the things I needed and to tie up most my loose ends. But leave I did.
Shangri-la should definitely have rescue dogs playing on a beach.
I left the heat of Las Vegas for the heat of Phoenix, but it did allow me to meet up with an old friend by the name of Richie Two-Chairs. Richie was on the Veterans Charity Ride (VCR) with me in 2017 and again in 2018. He organized an unofficial ride to Sturgis called the VCR Alumni Ride after that, where friends from VCR (and other veterans and family) would do their own ride to the South Dakota Biker Rally, meeting up with the official VCR riders at certain spots.
With VCR changing formats this year there is no official ride to Sturgis. Instead they will have three rides in the Utah and Colorado area, reaching more veterans with their mission of motorcycle therapy. For the vets who’ve already gone through the program and want to meet back up, Richie has put together a ride from the Phoenix area up to Elko, Nevada, then east to South Dakota by way of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Riders from California, Idaho, and Utah will be meeting up along the way, and there are even a few who live near Sturgis that will ride west to join the ride as it works its way back. This is just veterans looking to get together and enjoy the open road together, but honestly that’s all it takes. And, even though I’m not a huge fan of the rally (or most large, crowded events), I am a fan of riding motorcycles and meeting good people, so I’ve decided to make the trip too.
Sometimes the thing you need in life finds you.
I’ve still got a fair bit of Baja to explore as I search for the world’s best fish taco, but I’ll make good use of my time down here for that, and I can always return: I’m even looking at properties down here. In short, there will be more for me to update on as the months tick along. Summer on the road is usually about avoiding sunburn and figuring out how to take a nap in the hottest 3hrs of the day, and I’m still sure I’ll do plenty of that, but I’m excited to have places to go and not just to amble around the US with no direction.
But I promised y’all some pictures of tacos didn’t I? Well, here you go. I’ll have an update in a week or two with more specifics about down here in Baja, but I’m not trying to do a travelogue. Don’t expect tips on where to stay or what to see. I’m more interested in taking the experience of being alive on this planet and putting it into words. In that process hopefully you’ll find something interesting about your own experience of being alive. While we are all so different, we’re all 99% the same and we just focus far too intently on that 1% in other people.