Reflections: Wonder

by Kimberly Maroon

Wonder is the key to living our lives to the fullest, embracing experiences with our whole heart. It unlocks our creativity, a deeper understanding of ourselves, and ultimately paves a way for overcoming our fears. The experiences that take us to those awe-struck moments in life all start with wonder— to me wonder is all about being curious, seeking out challenges, breaking routine, and getting uncomfortable.

Over the past 3 or 4 years, I developed a habit of submitting to things where I didn’t have all the pieces exactly in the right place, details were unplanned, or some risk was involved. It sits somewhere between “this could be completely awesome” and “this is could go horribly wrong.” I’m here to tell you that the space in between is where the magic happens. From my first solo trips along the California Coast and the Pacific Northwest to camping alone in Utah’s National Parks, my sense for adventure grows everyday. More significantly are those moments of the journey when the unexpected strikes where I discover something new or have to navigate a difficult situation.

The biggest shift in my life was when I brought home a motorcycle last year and then earlier this month joined a ride to an all girls moto campout in the Catskills, Babes Ride Out. Motorcycle rides are an exercise in uncertainty. And vintage motorcycles like mine, a 1973 Honda CB350 Four, are one more degree above uncertainty. I wondered if my bike could make that long ride.

In 2 months leading up to the trip, I put as many miles on as I could, getting faster and more comfortable, “listening” to the bike, doing whatever maintenance was needed, and reading up on others doing long distance bike trips. It felt more mental preparation than physical or mechanical. The negative voices in my head ran through all kinds of scenarios of “what ifs” and “shoulds and should nots”, almost talking myself out of going. I was taking a chance on myself as a new rider, with little knowledge of mechanics, and a 46 year old bike riding about 300 miles on roads I’d never seen to Narrowsburg, NY. I packed lots of tools and some replacement parts, crossed my fingers, and took off.

185 miles on the first day and I was amazed, it was a completely different bike. ‘You gotta hear this thing!!!’ I kept telling friends back in Boston. 90 more miles across the Hudson River and into camp I was astounded. It was incredible to me that we both made it that far. Then all day blasting through The Catskills with a group of ladies on the most scenic roads and my heart was full.

On Sunday it was time to make the ride back to Boston and at mile 16 I burnt out my clutch on a hill and broke down. Julie and I stranded on the side of the road in Monticello NY, a whole day away from home. 

Whether it was sheer exhaustion from the weekend or my practice from other crazy situations, I didn’t go into a panic-stricken meltdown. With our quick decision making, some luck (ok, a lot of luck), and the wonderful help of a group of neighborhood guys, we were on our way an hour or so later— me piloting a rented pickup truck with my bike tied in the back following Julie on her Harley—making it to Boston before dark as planned.

I learned more about myself and riding a motorcycle and came out a little more proud. I wouldn’t have it any other way. As I continue a personal documentary project about women and bikes, I am flooded with ideas just from this experience. If it’s possible I think I was inspired by myself this time.

We don’t always have to know every where, what, and when. There is no value in worrying about a million things that “could” happen, those “what ifs”, they limit us from truly enjoying and experiencing life. There’s 10x more that comes from leaping than sticking with what you know. We all have the capacity for wonder we just have to keep after it. Have faith, choose wonder and you will find nothing but joy.

Kim is a photographer, director, and designer based in Boston. Follow along @kmaroonfoto