Zen Motorcyclist: Do What You Love
“Do what you love, it’s gonna lead to where you want to go.” -Wayne White
When I was a kid we lived in the country, and I loved running at night, even in the winter. I treasured the silence. There were no cars, no birds, and no barking dogs. There was nothing but the moon and stars, which were carefully arranged, it always seemed, especially for me. I heard only the rhythmic sounds of my footfalls, breathing, and heartbeat. I’d run for miles in the dark watching the power lines above for indications of approaching cars.
I realize that, at age 47, I still go out to recreate the experience that spoke to my soul when I was 15; only now I do it on a motorcycle. It’s where the world and I make the most sense; where the cacophony and confusion of life as we know it become a symphony of movement and vision, an exploding and all-encompassing paradox of speed and stillness, of noise and silence, of introspection and personal expression. I’m once again that kid running at night, listening to my own breath, and still looking ahead to the unknown endless possibilities ahead of me. I find that I’m just as excited now, maybe even more so in fact. I’ve stopped wondering and asking why and have embraced that I just need to do it because it feeds something in me that demands to be fed.
I’m not a particularly religious man, but I watched Chariots of Fire last week. I hadn’t seen it in years. Eric Liddell, in explaining to his disapproving sister why he wanted to run said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, for China; but he also made me fast, and when I run, I feel his pleasure.” It’s my favorite scene. Sometimes it’s just right to do something for the sheer pleasure of it. I believe the universe conspires to be known through people pursuing true joy. I know I have to ride; I feel it deep down in that locked away place that can’t be bargained with, explained away, or ignored.
An Allstate ad I saw recently really resonated with me. It said “staycations” are dangerous. I couldn’t agree more! You’ve got to do those things that reflect back the joy in the world and that run thick in your veins long after you’ve done them. It’s where you learn the most about yourself and what you’re capable of. It’s where you test yourself. What’s the point? Well, if I were pinned down and forced to choose, I’d say the point is to just experience it—to feel, to be moved, to ride into that vacuum and fill it with whatever is inside you that refuses to be contained, to resonate with the splendor and become, if only for the length of a ride, one with everything, to realize your insignificance, and to celebrate your uniqueness at the same time, and to let the universe express itself through you.
Thirty-two years later I’m a few pounds heavier, have creaky knees, and a whole lot less hair. Yet when I ride, I’m still that 15-year-old kid running along at night listening to the sound of my own breathing and stunned by the panorama of the stars.