By Larry Feinstein
I had been laboring over a letter to my grandson, Shane, who turned seven Dec. 13. I am flying to see my family in Hoboken, New Jersey this month and I thought it would be interesting to use the letter format for my column. I relaxed, confident this idea would make a good story. When I finally started writing, I couldn’t get past a kind of soft introduction.
I felt stuck in the muck of our world, the complete disregard for the sanctity of life. We are being terrorized in our own country by the insanity of mass murder. I can’t keep track of the slaughter of innocent people in too many countries by too many righteous killers owning too many names. At the same time, the rich have never been richer and the suffering has never been greater.
The barbarism of First World members, including our own, uses violence to counter violence; and it fails every time. We are One World, and all of us deserve kindness and compassion, but we are starved for it.
I didn’t know what to write to an innocent child, and how to use that letter to craft a story that would be interesting to you as well. Shane is growing up in a loving household and being given every opportunity to develop into a fine young man. The world outside his warm and secure environment can wait a while.
I was saved from this creative impasse on Shane’s birthday, which felt appropriate. As usual, I rode my motorcycle, Flaming Lips, to 7-Eleven in Lihu‘e, a ritual since my arrival on Kaua‘i more than 12 years ago. Back then, the Sons of Kaua‘i immediately adopted me, a loose-knit ‘ohana of bikers I am privileged to still be a part of. Every Sunday, I get my lessons in aloha, not the commercialized stuff, but the real deal from people who think it is completely normal to be that way.
When I pulled into 7-Eleven, there were at least 25 bikes, more than I had seen in months. I swam through a sea of aloha to get to every single person there. With guys, you do the power handshake and then you pull close, touching hearts. With women, you gently hug and exchange cheek kisses. Our procession eventually wheeled out to make our scheduled appearance at a much larger gathering at the County Council building.
It was Toys for Keiki, an annual biker event put on by Russell for at least 20 years. With nearly 200 bikers assembled for the ride, the energy would’ve blown the doors off an Aloha Geiger Counter. I walked around, soaking up the effervescent joy everywhere. When we finally got going, I found myself toward the front of a half-mile snake of motorcycles and I began to cry. That was the moment I decided to bag the letter to Shane and write about this feeling, an unspoken, elusive secret between riders, which is why we smile and give a manly wave to bikers passing in the opposite direction.
Once again, the motorcycle came to the rescue, as it has so often in Mind and the Motorcycle. Whether riding with 200 bikes on Kaua‘i or completely alone, weaving through the redwoods on Highway 101, there are precious moments of pure joy and absolutely nothing else. You are completely free, without a care in the world, in a beautifully suspended state of grace.
In 2016, I wish these moments for Shane and you.
- Ride into the New Year with Larry at mindandthemotorcycle.com