Monday, August 22, 2011

On Motorcycles (and other things)

greasy hands

The first time I saw Lyle dismantle an engine was back in Alaska when we were dating. His boat sank (funny, because he is in the Coast Guard!). He knew the engine was pretty much a lost cause from the beginning, but he did it anyway. I would come over after work and he'd be in the garage, bent over a table with parts laid out all over it, poking and scrubbing and tinkering I guess, taking things apart and putting them back together. I was never quite sure what he was doing because engines are just not my thing and on the one hand he said it wasn't fixable but on the other he was spending a lot of time messing around with it. I didn't get it, but I did notice his smile.

in the garage 

Since them I've seen him fix up a totaled motorcycle and then later part it out (dismantle the whole thing and sell it piece by piece). Not too long after that he brought another project bike home and that bike has been reduced to the bare frame:

that used to be a motorcycle 

He fixed up a friend's brush mower and then one of those kid's ride on john deere gators (Josh and the neighbor kids have been having a lot of fun with that one!).
fixing the brush mower
 (making a few adjustments to the brush mower)

Then there is Lucy. She loves to go out to the garage and watch her daddy work, but not for long. What she really wants is to be involved, and Lyle is more than willing to hand her a wrench and let her get her hands dirty working on these machines.

helping daddy

I'm not sure what else to say about all of this, because like I said engines and machines are not my thing. I do know that Lyle is not a mechanic by trade. He is entirely self-taught when it comes to these things. He figures them out. He pieces together info from all his sources, whether it is from manuals, books, or online message boards, and he does it. One night he goes out to the garage to work on his bike while I sit down to knit in my quiet living room, and a few hours later I hear roaring. Yep, the motorcycle is running. Already? Wow, that new motorcycle is louder than his other bike. Then a month later he calls me out to the garage and the motorcycle is gone. Where a motorcycle once stood there is now a metal frame.

For the most part, I still don't get it. I don't, and I still don't particularly like motorcycles. But the thing I do get is his smile, and it has taken me some time but now his bikes and his projects, and the engine parts and the grease--they make me smile too. It makes me happy to see him enjoying this, pursing this passion. When he's working out in the garage I'll peek out there every now and then just to watch for a minute, and while I may not get engine parts, I do get putting your hands into something and making something else out of it. I get that it is tangible, that it is fun, and that there is something [special, magical, unexplainable] about being able to use your hands to make something that works, whether that is a motorcycle or a sweater (because sweaters are something I do get!). And you know what, sometimes even when it doesn't work, the process itself was worth it anyway. So maybe I do get that old boat motor way back in Alaska, the one that never ran again but still put a smile on his face.

When Lyle first started talking about getting a motorcycle, I was, ummm....a *tiny* bit upset about it. They are so dangerous! You have a family! They are SO dangerous! But you know what, a few years later I am so glad I didn't think it would be right for me to step in and tell him, "No, absolutely not!" (and I really wanted to, believe me, I may have even sort of begged him not to), because he really loves this and I love that he loves it.  Limiting his interests because of my own personal preferences/desires/hangups would have meant him missing out on something that is now very important to him.

This is what I want for my kids. I want to know and understand their passions, even if I can't fully get it the way they get it. I want to be happy just to watch them go for it, no matter what it is. I don't ever want to take something like this away from them, without even knowing. Because that's the thing, you never know where an interest might lead someone--most of the time you don't even know where an interest might lead you. At first my thoughts about motorcycles were all about fear and danger and family and security. If I had made it my right to stop it there I would have taken something from Lyle without any of us ever realizing or knowing what that was--and really, that would have taken something away from our whole family. Our family is better when we all get the chance to pursue those things that really make us feel *right*. I don't know how else to describe this, I just know that when I knit it, there is this unexplainable quality, something I get from it, and it is just *right* for me. I want my husband and my kids to have the chance to find that rightness too.

P.S. I just wanted to include a link to a book Lyle read recently that relates to this post: