I have always felt that riding motorcycles was very Zen. You must become one with your machine and your surroundings. Certainly, if you are not living in the moment then you will not be living long.
You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.
On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it’s right there, so blurred you can’t focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.
A couple of years back, I wrote a poem expressing somewhat similar thoughts.
A Free Man
Sunday morning, nine A.M.
On the Payette South Fork road
Fifty degrees, crisp Autumn air
As the Aspens turn to gold
Head east towards Lowman
Then north to Stanley, a steady sixty-five
Ponderosas tower beneath blue skies
God, its great to be alive
To feel the cool morning chill
Smell the world you’re riding in
To hear the stream along the road
Take a bite of the rushing wind.
The most beautiful ride in Idaho
This Stanley to Ketchum run
Beneath the Sawtooth Mountains
In the warm September sun
A car behind presses me hard
An SUV, black as midnight
It roars around me at seventy –five
Blacked out windows, rolled up tight
The passengers protected from
The sunny world outside
In total, sealed off isolation,
On their sterile, joyless ride.
I pity them, for they’ll never know
In their driven, hurried rage
The bite of the wind, the smell of the pine
They are prisoners in a cage.
As for me, I’ll ride until snow flies
Ride as many miles as I can
For as I ride, my spirit soars
On my bike I ride, a free man.
Copyright 2007, Bill “uglicoyote” Davis
- 9 Lessons Learned from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (motorcycleinsurance.com)
- 8 Must-Read Travel Books for Motorcyclists (motorcycleinsurance.com)
- Words from Robert Pirsig (laparolascritta.wordpress.com)
- Whose center is everywhere (masslessparticles.wordpress.com)