Motorcycle Horns and Mindfulness

Yesterday I took Big Red up to Dalton to work and I kept thinking:  I can’t wait to head out on our trip. Hopefully, we can stay off the interstates as much as possible and keep to the old scenic blue highways.

But first I have to get my horn fixed. A few months ago I installed a new horn for Big Red. The horn was a Pro Pad Mini Beast Air Horn that runs around 128 decibels.  That’s about twice as loud as a car horn. I wanted to make sure that if drivers couldn’t see me they would at least hear me. And it’s louder than Jeff’s horn so that’s all that really matters.

It’s been working great though I haven’t had to use it much. Yesterday, while riding Highway 53 I heard it go off, which was surprising since I hadn’t pressed the horn button. Maybe my finger accidentally touched it? Then it happened again. I thought: this will be great if the thing starts going off and I can’t stop it! But wait, sure I can. I’ll just pull those wires out on the handlebar and that’ll stop it and then I can find the problem and rewire it up later. A smug smile came over my face. The satisfaction that comes from even the tiniest amount of motorcycle maintenance knowledge.   Then the horn went off  again and I looked at the wires I was going to pull out and realized that those wires were not for the horn but for the fog lamps I’d installed. (If people couldn’t hear me I wanted to increase their chances of seeing me!). Then I remembered the horn wires were inside the chrome horn casing on the left side of the bike

I stopped a few miles later at a Bojangles to get a sausage biscuit and checked out the wires in the horn casing. It didn’t look good. Apparently some of the wires had slipped out and had decided to warm themselves against the engine. The coating on two of the wires had burned off. The fuse block also didn’t look that healthy.  I tried the horn and it was dead. I continued on to Dalton and taught my class. As usual, the students were great.

I took the twisting back roads home, practicing how to manage the curves, the leaning and countersteering that’s required for safe and enjoyable motorcycling riding. And I worried about the horn. Could I fix it? Was I going to have to take it to the Harley dealership and have them laugh at me! Then I realized that I wasn’t “in the moment”. My mind was in the future. I remembered the words of David Bader who said: “Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?”
I needed to recover my mindfulness. Mindfulness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn is an awareness that comes from paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment. You have to let go of the past or the future.  I looked around: the sun was shining, the sky Carolina-blue, it was about 80 degrees and I was passing a grassy field, lit up with intense-yellow buttercups. Romping through the grass were a few shiny, chestnut- brown horses. The juxtaposition was perfect and the symmetry magical. I took a deep breath and thanked God for the moment and the beauty I was riding through. I’d worry about the horn tomorrow.

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