4 min read

Make Room For Hard Turns

Make Room For Hard Turns
Midjounrey: a dirt bike laying in the middle of a freshly plowed field showing the rows of the recently plowed field at sunset --ar 16:9

It became a tradition in my family growing up that when you got to sixth grade, you got to go spend a week with Grandma and Grandpa on the farm. It was October and I was flying up my first flight by myself to Iowa for harvest season.

My grandfather was a legendary farmer in Iowa. He grew corn and soybeans and was a very shrewd businessman. He often bought futures contracts for his commodities years in advance and baffled other farmers in his town with his understanding of how the markets would move and the deals he was able to pull off.

When I got there, my grandfather was a little bit suspicious of how his grandson from the suburbs of Dallas would do with the manual labor required during harvest season. All of my other cousins lived within an hour of Grandpa and also grew up on farms, and we're used to it. I was the city boy and, unbeknownst to me, would be observed very closely.

It turned out I did okay. I was able to keep up. I wasn't afraid to get my hands dirty and didn't flinch when Grandpa's hand started bleeding when he cut it on the tractor blade as we were cleaning it up in the shop.

But there was one experience in which, in hindsight, I probably should have gone to the emergency room, but that's not how things go on the farm.

I was riding a dirt bike at dusk, which the older kids had shown me how to do in the flat field near the house. They said riding through the recently plowed field would be even more fun if I wanted to get some really good speed.

So I picked up a row of the recently plowed field as if it were my lane on a race course. I started picking up speed as I moved through the open field. The rows were at least a foot deep in each of the trenches that the tiller had made recently as it pulled through the field, getting the ground ready for winter and preparing for next spring's harvest.

As I was hitting top speed I saw ahead in the dusk of the evening a large rock in the middle of my chosen row. I realized that if I didn't, change lanes. I was going to collide with this rock that had been unearthed in the plowing process. And so I gingerly turned the handlebars to the right and quickly learned that gingerly is not something you do in a freshly plowed field.

I kinda made a directional change.

I thought I could smoothly get around it as if I were on a flat surface, but the sides of the plowed row were more than enough to keep my tires exactly where they had been. But my momentum and my body weight was leading down to the right side as if I was going to be making this turn successfully

When the motorbike hit the ground, the tires were still in the row that I'd previously chosen, stopped just short of the rock that I was trying to avoid. But the bike landed on me. The handlebars crashed into my chest and my leg was pinned underneath the muffler. I struggled to get the bike off of me and crawl out from underneath it with a tear in my shirt from hitting the handlebar. Add to that a bright red hole singed into my leg just above my right ankle, a scar I still have to this day.

I had not made a decisive turn. I had made a slight turn. It was a decisive turn was needed. I was in a rut that I tried to get casually get out of. I tried to casually veer in a different direction as if it was a simple thing to do. And because of that, I fell and failed spectacularly. The bike stayed the rut that it was in and I got injured in the process.

I was thinking about some of the ruts that I would like to get out of some of the patterns that I have been going full speed in. I'm realizing that there's a large rock just up ahead that I'm going to run into if I don't make a change to get out of this right.

But slowly or slightly changing won't be enough. The rut will keep me right where I've been. The only way to get out of a rut this deep is to turn hard into the sides that have kept me constrained, use the speed to climb up and over the walls of this pattern, avoid the rocks ahead, and find a new, clearer pattern to drop into.

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