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Riding is Life
Riding represents Life. Life's main quality is that it is bigger than us. We are in Life, not vice-versa, so we dont really control it. Of course we try to control it. Sometimes it lets us, and sometimes it doesnt. Whatever we imagine, we are the junior partner. We are not really in charge, though some think they are.
Life is bigger than us, but it is also personal
For proof consider the million, million stars in our galaxy, each like our Sun, and then a million, million more galaxies in the universe. Life is bigger than us, but it is also personal - it is you and the world. In this situation, no human rules suffice, and this is the first rule. A corollary is that Life is unpredictable.
Quantum Theory shows that an electron in an atom is not defined. You never know what it will do, or where it will be, from one moment to the next. If an electron is unpredictable, how much more so are people on the road?
Expect the unexpected, for it is sure to happen
No advice is fixed, as In life, anything can happen, anytime. Really! Whether you ride or not, expect the unexpected, for it is sure to happen. A “ready rider” is someone who makes every-moment choices in a world "built to be free".
I want predictability!
Do you? Suppose the world were fully predictable. Then our lives would also be predictable (as we are in the world). If the world were a machine, we would also be machines. Our life and death would be known from our moment of birth. Every state would predict the next state, and everything would be pre-ordained and pointless. I am so glad the world is not like this. Aren't you?
Unpredictability is the world's best feature
Unpredictability is the world's best feature! You cant have it both ways: that we are free but the world is not. Our freedom to act comes from the world's freedom to act. So if you like your freedom, accept the world has the same. That the world has choice gives us choice, and that makes life worth liviing.
OK, give me freedom
Riding a motorcycle is a feeling of freedom, of touching reality directly, with no barriers between you and the world. You sit above two wheels, without seatbelts, airbags or protective metal. If you make a mistake, you pay. This is not just the way it is – it is the way you want it. Why? Because this does not harm us but help us. Without consequences, we would do all sorts of stupid things - I know I would! Bad things come from what we do.
Life has necessary negative forces, but Life itself is not negative
Life has necessary negative forces, but life itself is not negative. It is a growth machine with two forces: cooperation and competition. The first is the web of life, how everything connects so it all works. The second is survival of the fittest, Nature's pruning hook. It is a mixture of war and peace. War is the more obvious force, but peace is the growth force.
Likewise people see threats, but opportunity is what life is really all about. If every day you worry something bad will happen, you miss the point of living. Sitting above these positive/negative factors is freedom. You choose to see the glass as half empty or half full. Every day can be an opportunity, where you wonder “Where will I ride today?” Given freedom, choose a positive approach.
Freedom is not free
However freedom is not free. First, freedom assumes you have skills to choose from, so you have to learn to ride. Parents teach children skills so they have choices later on. Second, freedom requires discernment, the ability to choose rightly. Is giving a loaded gun to a baby freedom? Is rioting and looting freedom? Freedom without discernment is a curse.
Freedom is like the icing on a two layer cake - it is the best part, but is not much without the cake.
Given skills and discernment, your freedom is still over your actions, not the outcomes of your actions. Outcomes are decided by the world not you. Hence freedom is not freedom to do stupid things. Skills give you choices, and discernment lets you choose rightly. Without these, freedom has no value. Freedom is like the icing on a two layer cake - it is the best part, but is not much without the cake. Yet to exercise choice is, to complete the analogy, sweet.
To get the benefit of freedom you must be in the right mental state. Most experts agree that riding a motorcycle is 90% a mental activity. Riding a bike means your head must be in the right place.
If you can handle the reality of riding, you can handle other realities in life
Equally, most accidents occur from cockiness or inattention. I like the "all focus no worry" state of mind it takes to ride a motorcycle. It readies you for the rest of your life. If you can handle the reality of riding, you can handle other realities in life.
Connect to the world
Life is good when you connect
The perceptive may have noticed a contradiction in earlier chapters, which seem to expouse both accpetance and rider control. How can one have both control and acceptance? Well, note that both are valid ways to deal with stress. Those with control, who feel in charge of the world around them, have less stress. They reduce stress and live longer because they feel they are in charge of their lives. Equally, those who accept the world, as saints and sages do, also have less stress. They also live longer, because they feel God is in charge of everything, and so they dont have to worry. Both ways work to reduce stress.
However to be wishy-washy, with neither power nor faith, is to combine the worst of both these approaches. Those without acceptance resent the world, and feel stress because they think everything is not as it should be. Those without power or control feel powerless, and feel stress because they cannot alter their situation. To have neither power nor acceptance is to have maximum stress.
Now consider how a rider can have both control, which puts you in charge, and also acceptance, which means you aren’t. Can one have the best of both worlds? When you are connected to the world, you are both in charge and not in charge. As you ride you are free, and so is the world. The world has power over you, but you also have power over the world. You react to the world, but the world also reacts to you. This connection is the spirit of life, and it protects better than armor plate. When riding with “connection protection”, the metal around you is irrelevant. Connected riders are “control freaks” with acceptance, cautious risk-takers, who plan for the unexpected, riders with respect but no fear.They are a contradiction in terms, but they exist.
|© Brian Whitworth, 2004, 2005|