Gene’s Back Story and Hopes


Back Story and Hopes for the Trip

In July of 2012 I moved back to Georgia and settled in Rome, which is a truly wonderful town. Prior to this I spent 16 years living in Northern Ireland – a magnificent and magical place which I loved. Unfortunately, over the last 2 years before I left there the magic wore out for me. The kids had grown and were away, my marriage fell apart, my job suffered and my heart broke. I needed to heal. I needed to find hope. I left everything and came home.

A character in one of my stories describes how I felt:

The other night a good friend of mine who is Jewish came down to Tybee to see me. We sat on the screened porch and smoked a couple of Hav-A- Tampa Jewel cigars and hoisted a few beers. We were talking about God, as one does in moments like this, and he told me this old Hassidic story. It’s about a student who asks his rabbi a question about Deuteronomy 6:6. “and these words, which I command thee this day, shall be put upon thy heart.” The student asks the rabbi: “Why does God say it this way? Why are we told to put these things upon our heart rather than in our heart?” He paused at this point and took a few puffs of his cigar, the grey smoke disappeared rapidly in the breeze. I don’t know if it was for dramatic emphasis or what but we both just stared out through the screen. I watched the brown palmetto fronds rubbing up against the side of the house.

He looked at me and said: “The rabbi tells the student that it is beyond our power to put God’s teachings directly into our heart. ‘All we can do’ he says, ‘is to place them on the surface of our heart so that when our heart breaks the teachings will drop in.’” I could picture that, feel it, my heart breaking and something falling in. I think it was hope. (Knight of Faith)

With the help of friends, family, prayer, God, writing, reflection, mindfulness practice and, of course, motorcycle riding, I have found hope. Through all of these I am trying to stay in the present, to let the painful memories of the past go and to live in gratitude and practice loving-kindness, some things on which all religions agree.

So my hopes for the trip are to enjoy the ride. Appreciate the friendship, wit, orneriness, and camaraderie of my great pal, Jeff Stafford. See my daughter and her husband. Stay focused in the present; a mindfulness that motorcycle riding forces upon you. I want to appreciate the new lands we travel through and show kindness to everyone we meet (especially drivers who try not to hit us). To ride with gratitude, prayer, awareness and, of course, hope.

Crank her up!

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