Sometimes truth can come from an unexpected person and smack you right in the face. That happened to me today.
I’ve said it before, but I ride a motorcycle. A Harley, to be exact. I’m a tinkerer. I change my own oil. I do my own brakes. From time-to-time, then, I pop onto motorcycle forums and ask for help or advice. I recently signed up for one and I guess I got on their email list (figures — I should know this is going to happen by now).
This morning, I got a ding on my computer. A new email from the forum. I was about to delete it when I noticed the subject line and the main article: “Why We Should Always Biker Wave.”
Now, if you don’t ride a motorcycle, I’m not sure how I can explain this. But I’m going to try. There’s an unwritten rule in biker culture that whenever you see a fellow rider, you wave. It’s not a hearty, palm-open, “hello neighbor” wave. No, it’s more a subtle flick of the wrist, or a two-fingered, sideways point. More Katniss, less Mr. Rodgers. If you’re not “one of us,” you’ll likely miss it. But we know.
How dedicated are we to this? While on a 2,000-mile motorcycle trip last year, I passed a group of about 50-75 riders. We were on some back country roads and all driving slower than normal. I raised my fingers and kept them up there for several minutes despite the burning in my arm. There was no way I was going to skimp on my responsibility. No way.
That’s how serious this is.
Maybe now you have an idea. So when I saw the author’s concluding thought, I almost raised my arm in solidarity.
Don’t wave expecting it to be returned, wave to show you get it. Wave because you want to connect, wave because that rider could use the wave to brighten an otherwise lonely day. Wave at all bikes, big and small, foreign and domestic. Wave because you mean it. I know if I see you I’ll wave your way. It may be a peace sign, drop it low, or even just a finger lift but I will acknowledge you on the road. If I happen to not wave and you did. Know I appreciate and I’ll pass it on to the next rider.
Awesome, I thought. That is why we wave!
Then it hit me: I’ve really missed the larger point.
This isn’t just about motorcycles, whether the author knows it or not. What he’s saying applies to way more than some simple wave.
What if I gave everyone the same respect and dignity that I do to fellow bikers? What if I was as invested in getting to know people as I was in following the biker code?
Do this: Take out the word “wave” in the author’s final paragraph and insert “love.” It would sound something like this:
Don’t love expecting it to be returned, love to show you get it. Love because you want to connect, love because someone could use that love to brighten an otherwise lonely day. Love all people, big and small, foreign and domestic. Love because you mean it. I know if I see you I’ll try to show you love. It may be a simple hug, a hello, or even just paying for you at Starbucks, but I will acknowledge you. If I happen to not show you love and you did to me, know I appreciate and I’ll pass it on to the next person.
Loving without strings attached? That doesn’t makes sense in today’s world. Love not because of what it could do for you and instead because it could be what someone else needs? Crazy. Being genuinely invested in people’s lives instead of their Instagram pictures? Slow down.
Don’t love expecting it to be returned, love to show you get it. Love because you want to connect, love because someone could use that love to brighten an otherwise lonely day.
But what if I did it? What if I cared about loving people because it was just what we should do? What if that was the unwritten rule I followed to the point that I’m willing to put myself through pain? What if those around us always knew they could expect us to love, no matter the circumstances? What if we found purpose in that instead of things?
And here I thought I was just reading an article about waving.