Rule# 66: Wear a helmet
I’ve realized that I started to having mid-life crisis early in my 30’s and have enjoyed re-experiencing them every 3 to 5 years since.
I recommend that you embrace them as you get older rather than avoid them, like grey hair they are inevitable. The trick is to channel them to positive things rather than unhealthy things.
For me the balance has always been to find the mid-life crisis that both is expression of as Dylan Thomas puts it a “rage against the dying of the light” and a healthy choice for my family and myself. It is the challenge of finding both the healthy and exciting adventures of life.
Which brings me to my rule: Wear a Helmet!
Of course the obvious expression of that rule is pretty easy to understand. Anyone that has watched Gary Busey before and after his motorcycle accident can see the clear advantages to wearing a helmet and the clear consequences of not.
And with knowing my obsession with Harley Motorcycles it is easy to quickly discount this rule as goofy Dad just reminding us to be safe. But it is much, much more…
First it is about the understanding that life is about risk, and if you never put yourself at risk life will become dull and sort of sad. Some of the risks will be like riding a motorcycle or riding a jet ski, others will be like taking a chance and running for class president or being in a play.
Bobbi has played that 1999 “Everyone’s Free ( to wear sunscreen)” song about a thousand times over the years. And a line in its still has a lot of meaning to me…”do something everyday that scares you”.
Everything that I have done. I mean EVERYTHING. Has stemmed from taking a risk when I felt uncomfortable and not ready..but took the leap. Leap everyday into an adventure and life will be filled with joy.
BUT…taking risks doesn’t mean being stupid. This is wear the helmet comes in.
When I was on mid-life crisis #11 in 2012 I bought a 2001 Harley w/ a sidecar. I rationalized that first because it had three wheels it would be safer ( lie#1) and that it was about giving my children a chance to bond with me on rides (lie#2). Yes both statements are very true, but lets face it you kids know its about Dad liking to ride motorcycles.
As an aside I figured out at 51 why I have this obsession. Everything in my life is multi-tasking -balancing work, family and community in a way that all are well served.
In the time I ride a motorcycle I have to fully present and focused- or will die. The intensity of riding a bike forces me to close down other aspects in my life and be on one thing at one moment.
The reason this works for me is that I don’t give a damn about the motorcycle- I like it, but I don’t really care about what it need or or wants are ( except gas and oil). It is a narcissistic focus that can not exist in the rest of my life because I am blessed by having a family, co-workers and friends I care deeply about.
I’ve not engaged in the practice of having mistresses but I think for some people these meaningless affairs with other people are the same experience that I get from a motorcycle. A complete self-serving moment of time when you really don’t care about anything but enjoying the experience.
As expensive and self absorbed a habit as motorcycle ownership is I can assure you it is not nearly as expensive or unhealthy as a divorce or relationship failure. I recommend strongly that you buy the motorcycle and avoid the affairs. Its a much healthier choice..with or without a helmet.
Its the healthy choices that I am really talking about in this rule.
Bobbi and I have a rule, whenever Bobbi feels the least bit uncomfortable with the fog, chance of rain, or traffic…or if she just has a “bad feeling” the bike stays in the garage. Taking risks requires you respect the people you love and don’t make them watch you go over the falls in a barrel to a certain death.
It also means that you protect yourself from harm the best you can because you have a responsibility to yourself and to people that love you like me.
Wearing a helmet when I ride a motorcycle is an expression of love for my family and understanding of responsibility that I have to others.
As you take the risks in life, which again I am strongly encouraging, I ask that you reflect on this rule and ask yourself …am I wearing my helmet?
– When you go to the college party and drink too much, and you call a cab- you are wearing helmet
– When you decide that quiting the job to pursue a dream of openning a all night hot dog stand, putting away money first is wearing a helmet
– When giving your first speech to a group of students or co-workers , practicing it in front of the mirror 3 dozen times is putting on a helmet.
Wearing a helmet is the decision to make the healthy choice, not by avoiding risk but embracing it safely and intelligently.
One final note- if you think I am encouraging you to buy or ride motorcylces by this rule I am not – it is a dangerous thing and as you Dad I want you wrapped in bubble wrap while driving a very large Ford in the slow lane.
But although I hope you don’t do anything that hurts you, I know that wearing the helmet is a pretty safe rule to follow.