Personally, one of the best things about motorcycling is that it necessitates living in the moment. No past or present; only now matters. It’s a Zen concept but one that certainly applies to riding. It’s a time to recharge your batteries and go places deep within yourself that are better reached without words, places we can get to only through introspection, that are diminished when they’re spoken into being.
Quite often when I get back from a ride, I can’t recall what it was I thought about while I rode. Rather than emptying the mind, which is the goal of traditional meditation, I find I tap into that part of me that doesn’t get accessed often enough. Once a rider has ridden enough and the movements become second nature, the body goes on autopilot and the mind is free to take the lid off the dustbins of memory and emotions and go rooting around for a while, kicking the tires, seeing how far we’ve come and how far we’d like to go, who we’ve lost and who we hold dear, what’s worth hanging onto and what we should let go of.
How often in everyday life do you stop and admire a sunrise or sunset? On the bike I take every chance I get. At times on my morning commute, I’ve looked around me at the people in cars who looked anxious and tense, and then I’ve looked up at a particular cloud formation set against the endless blue of the sky and wondered, “Do they not see this?” I’ve even tried to point it out on occasion, only to be stared at in utter bewilderment.
Motorcycling tends to put a fine point on all the things in life that are already good and make them great, at times even spectacular: sunrise, sunset, cool air over hot, moist skin, music, the sun on your face, love, morning coffee, post-ride beer, memories of loved ones, the smell of leather and freshly cut grass, even the simple joy of movement through nature. It allows us to be children again: blissfully ignorant of all that might try to stop us from being everything we are capable of being.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel said: “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” So much of modern life is planning for other things, and there’s often little room for the kind of passion riding evokes. But on the bike there’s room for little else. It’s a challenge trying to string together the words that match the feelings, but it’s one I enjoy trying to meet. Riding demands you live in the moment; when you get right down to it, that’s all that matters.