For those of you who don’t know, a few days before my birthday at the end of 2013, I was in a pretty bad motorcycle accident. A car making an illegal left turn T-boned me, shattering my left tibia into several pieces, the biggest of which broke through the front of my leg. It took five months and five surgeries to put my leg back together, and there is nerve damage and sporadic pain.
While I was in the hospital, my uncle scrapped my bike (it was totaled) and threw out my helmet (on account of the blood). I loved that bike. It was nice and shiny, and it was obvious that the previous owner babied it, something I did as well. Laid out in the hospital bed, I wanted to restore it, but my uncle showed me the pictures of the damage and I knew it was a lost cause.
While I was still in a cast and using crutches, I sneaked out of the hospital and took the subway down to Suwon to look at a new bike. Against my better judgment, I bought it, so strong was my desire to get back on a motorcycle. I spent those long days on the internet, purchasing a new helmet, helmet cam, and protective gear. It was another month before I got the cast off and was discharged from the hospital, and the moment I could figure out how to use the gear shift with a bum leg, I got back on the bike.
There are very few people who understand. “Are you crazy?” “You still want to get back on a motorcycle after all you’ve been through?” “Aren’t you traumatized?” I’m not completely unaffected; I’m more wary, especially when riding through an intersection or any place where a car might pop out unexpected. But I ride as often as I used to, perhaps more after moving to my new place, and in much the same way. I can’t give it up because it’s something I love.
When I give my answer, I usually hear one of two things: “You’re selfish,” or “You’re dokhada,” which means something like stubborn and relentless in this situation. I don’t deny it. I’m all of those things. When you find something you love, you do it no matter what.
Jerry Seinfeld: “Did you see Captain Philips?”
Todd Barry: “No.”
JS: “The best part about Captain Philips is he goes through this Somali hijacking—you know, a very bad experience—he’s saved in the end, and a year later, he’s back out doing the same thing again.”
TB: “Did you just ruin the movie for me?”
JS: “That’s what I got out of the movie. People do what they do, and they’re going to do it.”
– Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, “So You’re Mellow and Tense?”
Image taken from http://www.comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com
Of course, there are sacrifices. One thing I’ve found as a single guy in Seoul is that Korean girls really dislike guys who ride motorcycles. (Well, perhaps the guys riding around on Harleys or BMWs get some love, but most of the people who ride motorcycles/scooters in Seoul are deliverymen.) Almost all of the girls I’ve dated have hated that I ride and nagged me constantly to stop. It’s contributed to at least one break-up and more than one discontinuation of contact.
And of course, I’m not just talking about motorcycles. I’m talking about everything I love and that gives me joy in my life in general and about writing in particular. I saw something on the internet the other day, a meme written by a kid who regretted chasing his dream because he came to the realization that he couldn’t get anywhere with it and was left with no real-world skills. Contrary to what is often preached, doing what you love is not for everyone. I don’t go around and tell people that it’s necessary for a fulfilling life. But for me, I know what I’m giving up and I’m okay with it. If only other people could understand.
From one of my favorite writers. Image taken from http://www.imgarcade.com