Why Harleys Rock

By | July 2, 2015

Three Harley-Davidsons just went rumbling by, and they enlivened something deep inside of me. No, it wasn’t the lure of the road or the biker mystique, and it wasn’t even the desire to get attention. It was something deeper than that.

I quit thinking about it and let myself feel. Right away, I came to realize that iconic sound of a Harley and the thumping bass line of a rock song hold something in common with the beat of a traditional Native drum. Then I had an Aha! moment—I bet that to the limbic process (the deep, nonverbal portion of the mind), these sounds are one and the same. The deep, steady, pulsating rhythm is our mother’s heartbeat. It is the rhythm of the earth. It is the methodical rhythm of our footsteps taking us on our life’s journey.

Back to Harleys. I wasn’t immediately sold on the idea that Harleys were part of the equation. The ever-doubting rational mind, you know. Yet nearly everybody responds to the pulsating rumble of a Harley. Whether they love it or hate it is a social response, or maybe a judgment, but not a gut response.  The same is true of the primal rhythm generated by a rock band.

I knew that to the limbic process, there is no difference between love and hate; they are flip sides of the same core emotion. Along with that, I speculated that our response to rhythm is organic and impulsive; our connection with it is imprinted in our DNA.

In other words, we have no choice in the matter. Whether we embrace the rumble or rail against it, it’s all the same; we are responding. There is no middle road, no neutral ground. The primal rhythm tears at our souls and shakes us up. We are going to come together to either dance around the fire or stomp out the fire, but either way, we are going to dance. It is the pack called to come together to rub bodies and howl before the hunt. It is the herd congregating and milling around before the start of the great migration. It is a gathering of raptors circling together while riding a thermal. It is the universal rhythm that all life responds to, each in its own way. And when we come together around the drum or on the dance floor—or when we turn our heads as a pack of Harleys goes by—we are there with our ancestors and those yet to be born, paying homage to the primal rhythm and the continuum of human life that honors it


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