Motorcycle practice

In July 2019, I started to get my motorcycle driving license. I had no driver’s license yet. This would be my first one. I could have chosen a more opportune time to get this done, but my friends dragged me on a trip to Japan in May that year, which meant I didn’t have the funds for the first few driving lessons available any sooner.

Getting a driver’s license in Germany is expensive.

Anyway, I wanted it. I didn’t want to put it off any longer and the time felt right. It wasn’t quite the best timing, though, as the instructor was on holiday for the latter half of July, which meant that getting my first lesson had to wait until August. Bummer.

And then it was really hot, too. Not the ideal conditions to get started. Still, I’ve been wanting to get that license for 15 years, though I’d never been in a place where it had been feasible.

Finally getting started was immensely exciting. I was super nervous before my first lesson, which ended up being a little ridiculous.

I was all fitted out and the motorbike was ready. It was a bigger size since I decided not to start with a beginner’s license. I’m old enough to get the proper A license without first having to get an A1 or A2.

That also meant it was a little heavier than a smaller bike. But sitting on it immediately felt right.

My instructor explained how the machine functioned, all the bells and whistles, and what I needed to look out for. Then we started the machine and he showed me how to move in first gear by just letting go of the gear shift ever so slightly, so the engine would pull without engaging the throttle at all.

We slowly rolled down a quiet side road. My instructor would alternately hold onto the bike and then let me go. It was a little like learning to ride a bicycle, though with a much bigger and heavier bike.

He wanted me to know the gear shift, throttle, breaks and how to balance myself. Once he was confident that I could operate all the parts of the bike, he encouraged me to open the throttle a little more and drive up and down the road. He was always close at hand, which meant a lot of running for him that day.

At the end of the 90-minute lesson, I was driving down the road at 15kmh, which was oddly exhilarating, even though I routinely cycle at 30kmh. Never mind that the power of the motorbike is intimidating when you are not careful with the throttle.

I have no need for speed, though now I do enjoy getting up to speed more than I did then. I was very careful, which ended up being the right approach. And my instructor was very pleased with my progress and said I have a talent for riding the bike.

Ultimately, as cautious as the first lesson was, it was also a lot of fun. It put me out of my comfort zone but pushing ahead was absolutely the right thing for me to do.

When I jump on my bike now, I feel right at home.

Just posing. I did wear gloves during the lesson.

Room for growth

We’ve all been there. Whiling away in our little comfort zone only to venture outside to take a risk, be open with someone in an attempt to be understood, to be seen, perhaps even to be loved. And then for it to backfire in the most painful way, forcing us back into our little box of comfort, where nothing can hurt us.

Making yourself vulnerable is always a tremendous risk. The brave among us will leave their boxes time and again. We dare because there is always the hope that this time we might not get hurt.

Except, we almost always get hurt. It’s what people do in their self-centredness that doesn’t recognise anyone else’s pain or the effect our thoughtlessness might have on someone else.

We hurt each other whether we mean to or not. We don’t know the other’s vulnerability, the wounds they carry with them, which we inadvertently open again and again.

Of course, it is easier and so much safer to retreat into our boxes and never come out again. At some point, it feels as if we’ve had enough and can take no more.

But shutting ourselves in leaves no room for growth. There is nowhere to go when you live in a tight little box. Yes, no one can hurt you, but life also becomes considerably less interesting and utterly predictable.

Instead of nursing our wounds every time we get hurt, we should try to grow with the pain we’ve sustained. It’s not easy. Indeed, there is little that is more challenging. But there is so much potential to become stronger, to accept our vulnerability as a part of ourselves and to use it as a strength instead of regarding it as a weakness.

I won’t deny the urge to simply head back into that box and protect myself from future pain. But I have found it suffocating to remain inside for too long.

So, hopeful or hopeless, I will venture out again, carry my vulnerability as a shield and accept that I may get hurt. It’ll never be easy, but it may just be worth it because the best experiences of my life I had outside that little box of comfort.