Before my most recent motorcycle ramble, a 700-mile round trip to Des Moines, Ia. over Father's Day weekend, my friend Paul gave me a look that haunted me in the days before I left.
The look said, "You are a deranged fool or a selfish fucking asshole for riding a motorcycle when you have an eight-year-old kid. It is one of the things I have to overlook in order to like you. And I do overlook it. But you're still a selfish fucking deranged foolish asshole for doing this."
(Between good friends, a look can say a lot.)
And he's right, of course. Once my wife asked me whether, if I die on my motorcycle, she can tell people I died doing what I loved. I told her she could tell them whatever she wanted, but she should know that as I'm hurtling through the trees, if it comes to that and if I have time to think, I will be full of regret, will be counting up, until I hit the tree, all the other pleasures in life that this one pleasure will now snuff out.
And yet I do it anyway, and so do many other people with heavy responsibilities to other human beings, and a lot to lose.
I spent much of the Des Moines trip creating this answer to Paul's silent question, Why?
Here, with no expectation of convincing anyone of anything (least of all Paul), is "Why."