PHOTOS ROBIN GLITHRO
There are moments in your life when you need to jump off a figurative cliff. These are the watershed moments where you go from being a person who thought about a particular thing to a person who does a particular thing. So it was on a sunny morning in south west England that I changed my life by letting out the clutch of my 1974 Honda and riding out onto the road.
After being relatively incapacitated with chronic migraines for the best part of nine months the thought of leaving the safety of home and striking out on my little machine was terrifying but the need to ride out was so fundamental that turning around and going back to the sofa was impossible. Despite this sense of compulsion I stood next to my bike (Glenda) working up the courage to mount up and teetering on the edge of whatever excuse I could use to postpone the action required and then my best-friend Robin quietly repeated the old maxim, ‘fear is temporary, regret is forever’. And it was this that brought me back to myself, a person who does things not a sick person who dreams of doing things. I got on that bike and I pulled out on the road and it was glorious.
I wound my way through villages, past fields and forests, tentatively gearing up and down initially shocked by the sense of speed even though I barely broke 30 miles per hour. And as I rode on I forgot about the relentless headache that had sat in my skull for so many months. I forgot to be scared of making a mistake, crunching the gears or stalling. I just rode and as the tarmac passed beneath me I began to laugh, not quietly to myself but out loud, a shouting laugh that the wind pulled out of me, involuntary and deep. It felt as if all the happiness and pleasure that these chronic headaches had stolen from me over the past months came back all at once. I felt a kind of joy riding my bike that I have never experienced before, the kind of peace and purpose I think people try to attain by meditating. That first ride was the beginning of something more profound than I had realised; it provided me with a clarity that until that moment had been lacking and for the first time I knew unequivocally that this was the right thing for me. After spending years working at stressful degrees and soul destroying jobs doing something that responded to a such fundamental part of me was liberating and wonderful.
While the last nine months have been incredibly difficult I have managed to achieve one of my fundamental life goals and have realised that no matter how ill, compromised or exhausted you may be there is always room to work towards your dream and that this in turn will nourish, replenish, and renew you.
Danica will do whatever it takes, and is therefore the John McClane of rural England. She has found solace from chronic pain in her CB125, ‘Glenda’. Her column on IVV follows her journey navigating personal struggles, defeating internal and external obstacles to freedom and living in the best sense of the word.