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Mountains in the Sawtooth Range reflected on L...

Mountains in the Sawtooth Range reflected on Little Redfish Lake near Stanley, Idaho (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Robert Pirsig, in his famous book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, wrote

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