Friday, December 30, 2011

Suffering and Joy

Sometimes, when desire meets reality, you come face to face with suffering.  Most recently it was unexpected physical discomfort related to the cold and my newly arthritic feet.  Out early yesterday with the temperature hovering around 20F should have been like a walk in the park.  Instead I was served a big bite of suffering.

Looking back I can see how my love of winter has decayed into a state of annoyed acceptance that it's a fact of life in central Pennsylvania.  This first cold ride of the season really surprised me and has me wondering how much cold I can tolerate.  A question every year round rider wrestles with at some point.

After an hour I planted myself in Starbucks to hold a paper cup full of hot chocolate in my hands, let my feet warm, and scribble a few notes on index cards about the challenges ahead.  I wrote "Suffering" at the top of the first card intending to post under that title.  But things have a way of changing.

The iPhone vibrated on the table displaying an image of my friend Gordon.  He and his wife Val bought their 14 year old son a .22 rifle for Christmas, a Ruger 10/22.  Nice gun.  And since he had never shot a gun before he asked if I could go with them to the local shooting range and get them started.  I remember the .22 rifle my father got for me around the same age and the joy I found going out with him to plink away at tin cans.  

Funny how warm some of my memories are related to weapons.

Last time I fired a gun at this range was in the early 1970s when a serendipitous encounter with gun dealer led to firing thousands of round of ammunition via an array of automatic weapons.  My first experience with a Thompson sub machine gun, M16, UZI, and an Ingram MAC-10 with a suppressor.  I learned two things.  Automatic weapons are fun to shoot.  Loading magazines isn't.  It's an interesting story that I'll share someday.

Gordon's son wasn't the only one surprised on Christmas morning.  Gordon's wife Val gave him a pair of riding gloves and some scooter brochures.  The meaning is obvious.  More joy at Christmas.

Went riding again today with no suffering.  Suppose there is a yin and yang to it all.  Didn't realize polar forces of opposite strength were at work in my riding life -- the suffering and the joy.


bobskoot said...


I also bought a Ruger 1022 sportster over 20 years ago. It is now illegal in Canada even though I bought it legally. It seems that the barrel is shorter than it should be and being semi-auto 22LR I had to swap out the 50shot rotary clip for the 10 shot straight clip. I used to go to the gun range until they shut it down.

I can sympathize with you as my foot is still not back to normal. A symptom of the old age that I refuse to accept, like yourself. It's like when I read your words it is as if I am thinking the same thing

Happy New Year

Riding the Wet Coast

Charlie6 said...

Nothing like going shooting with friends to generate some warm memories....then there's the cleaning of the weapons afterwards and the ritual exchange of pointed barbs at each other's shooting. Even better if everyone rode to the shooting range....

Hope your feet situation gets know, the Ural's with their jugs sticking out as they do from the side of the engine, provide a good warming point for one's feet.

Happy New Year!


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

coalfired said...

Try a pair of felt, pack boots. Very warm, sort of clumsy, but on a scooter, should be ok.
I too have many fond memories concerning guns and shooting. They were the bonding agent between my dad and me. At that time I didn't consider them as weapons, just tools that go bang. Those memories go back to the days we still had pheasants in Pa.
Happy New Year....stay warm

Steve Williams said...

bobskoot: The rules at the shooting range changed since my last visit and there was a 3 round maximum. That sure slows things down.

The Ruger 1022 is a solid little rifle and doesn't cost much at all. Surprised me.

Happy New Year!

Orin said...

Well, it's a side of you I never imagined. More of this, please!

The only firearms I've ever used were the M16 I was issued in army basic training in 1974 (it was manufactured by Mattel... seriously!), and a shootem-up at some rural bed & breakfast where a PI scooter buddy let several of us fire his 9mm semiautomatic pistol (really loud, but no kick... that surprised me).

I'm a lousy shot. If I had to live strictly on whatever I could kill, I'd starve to death. I guess growing up in the 'burbs will do that...

Scootin' Old Skool

David Masse said...

All my very best wishes to you and Kim for the new year Steve. I look forward to your 2012 posts.

Warm regards,


Bryce said...

The suffering comes as a result of our body's aging. In your case first heart, now your extremities. You're right in the age group too. Having given up riding, due to Lupus then cancer and then three years of chemo thought I was improving. Celulitus
struck n June 2011, still recovering. Bottom line what you once knew you could do, your body will not let you do, now.

However riding a Vespa is probably the least harm you'll do to yourself as the operation doesn't require frequent braking or shifting of gears as I recall.

The pain from the pressure of the downward pull of gravity on one's body can be made less by a decent pair orthotics inside your riding boots. Might be a good idea to have same also for work, walking on terrazzo floors in university buildings. Your feet and your eyes are most important, everything else follows.

Richard Machida said...

I noticed that I generally enjoyed winter until I started riding. Then I couldn't wait until Spring...

Happy New Year!

Steve Williams said...

Charlie6: I carefully avoid the cleaning part of shooting and leave it to others. So far so good.

I do have a lot of good memories though.

Today the feet are fine. Hopefully over time the medication will even things out.

And there's always spring!

Steve Williams said...

coalfired: I know those felt lined boots. That's an excellent idea.

I remember pheasants. I used to live by a big abandoned pasture. It would have a dozen or more pheasants in it. Hunting season would arrive, a couple truck loads of hunters would emerge, and two or three drives through the field would eliminate them. Seemed more like carnage to me than hunting.

When I was a kid it seemed like there were fewer hunters and they weren't so, intense.

Steve Williams said...

Orin: I'm a terrible shot too. Growing up we hunted with beagles for a time. I remember one dog bringing a rabbit around three times. I emptied my shotgun each time without hitting it. The dog gave me a dirty look.

I didn't know Mattel made M16s. They do have a plastic feel though...

Steve Williams said...

David Masse: Happy New Year to you!

Steve Williams said...

Bryce: Thank you for the suggestions.

I have a couple pairs of orthotics now and they help immensely. And I'm careful with how I get around, stand around, etc.

I hope the new year brings you some relief from health struggles and some clear skies ahead. I just have a glimmer of what those struggles can be.

Here's to a great New Year!

Steve Williams said...

RichardM: Riding can alter the way we perceive the world...

Jonathan said...

I still have the Ruger 10/22 my father gave me for my 13th birthday. We killed a lot of cans together.

Katie turns 14 next month. Perhaps a trip to Scotia is in order.

Orin said...

Steve, at the time the M16 was introduced, Mattel had a very realistic toy version (this was before toy guns had to be day-glo orange) that even fired something like bullets. The DoD connection became very clear to me.

Most of my buddies had M16s made by the Hydra-Matic Division of General Motors, and a few had ones made by Colt Industries. I had the only one from Mattel...

Scootin' Old Skool

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