I have just gotten my motorcycle licence. I’m 19 and I can conquer the world! I’m about to graduate from the police academy as a police officer. But I want to ride a real bike. My brother has a real bike. I decide I want to ride his big bike. A real bike. I have left home to study at the Police Academy as my parents own a beef property in the South Burnett, Queensland. I am visiting from Brisbane this weekend and I ask my brother if I can take his real bike into town, refuel it and bring it back home? It’s about a 5-kilometre ride into town. He agrees. So I put on his motorcycle jacket and helmet. I jump on the big red bike (we all know about anything red – it always looks and goes faster) and after getting the hang of it driving it around the house yard. It was a big house yard. I leave through the front gate and head to town, to the only service station in town that is open on the weekend.
So there I am, cruising along, feeling the wind whip past me on the open road. I rather deftly pull into the servo, turn off the ignition, dismount and commence filling up the bike. Living the dream! I finish refuelling and go in to pay the cashier. In those days, bike riders didn’t have to remove their helmets. I pay for the fuel (all $5) and walk back to my mighty red steed. I mount the beast, turn on the ignition, turn out the kickstarter and kick down as ‘Born to be Wild’ echoes in my mind… The engine roars into life… and in a split second the bike leaps out from under me. It’s is now in front of me, on its back wheel commencing its own ‘mono’ journey around the service station. I am holding to a tiger! Have you ever thought you were going to be the hero and ended up the zero? Well, this was the tipping point in the story for me. I’m at the beginning of an unceremonious waltz that is taking place in and around the bowsers of the servo. I go left. I go right. All the while trying to control the red beast in front of me. I barely have hold of its horns. I feel the beast drag me towards a vending machine against the servo wall. It (and I) bounce off the vending machine and then proceed on a voyage of discovery out towards the highway!
In the not far off distance, between the beast’s two horns I can see two elderly gentlemen (I say elderly, they were probably 50), who are having a good old chinwag on the footpath. The colour drains from my face and I go cold. The red beast is making a beeline for them! I try to think, but can’t, there really is nothing I can do. I can’t reach the bike’s kill switch. I am going to collide with these gents shooting the breeze on the nature strip. All of our eyes met. This was no across a crowded room moment. No! It was fear at first sight! Paralyzing fear for them and Shit, they’re gonna die fear from me. Bodies and mechanical beasts collide. The knobby tyres on the bike climb up all over these geriatric gents. The roaring red beast flattens them both, I fall to the ground, and the bike lands on top of me.
I’m stunned. I feel the hand of one of the elderly blokes grab my jacket and reef me out from under the bike. He is saying something to me that is completely unintelligible but I can definitely read his lips! I am going to cop a kicking! I’m glad I have my helmet on! They are yelling and screaming at me. One of them has a huge tyre track mark up his leg from the bike. In all of the bru-ha-ha, I find the kill switch and turn off the bike. I look up and through the December heat haze of the bitumen, I see the local constable running across the highway in the direction of the carnage.
With one hand the constable pulls the old dude off me and tell me to ‘piss off’ and get home!!! I don’t need telling twice. I lift up the bike, mount my whily steed, kick it over, (this time making sure it is in neutral) and absolutely fang it back home. When I get home, I mention nothing of the incident to anybody. Not even my brother. Especially not my brother! Thankfully, there is not a scratch on his bike.
I tell this story because it is clearly an example of a bad decision, probably several! The further it went on, the worse it got. But I didn’t let go. I walked that bike around for as long as I could trying to reach the kill switch and in the process, ran over two old guys on the footpath. I bit off more than I could chew and choked! I thought I knew what I was doing. My ego and bravado had somehow got in the way.
Every decision we have made in our lives so far, believe it or not, has been based in reason, and for a reason, that sometimes may not be evident. The very fact that we are together in this room today is the result of many, many decisions and goals that we have set throughout our lives to get us here. Some of them have been extrinsic and some intrinsic, but they are all decisions. They are all choices.