On the road, people get angry when someone blocks them or gets in their way. When this builds up to road rage it is a common cause of accidents. Anger, like fear, was in people long before cars came along. It evolved because violence can be useful, say if someone is attacking you, and anger prepares the body to fight. If you can’t open a jar, get angry, the adrenaline flows, and you either get it open or bust it. Anger is basically a fight response that typically arises from frustration – when you dont get what you want or expect. Angry people are prepared to fight for their rights. Yet from a riding safely point of view anger is dangerous – for you! Anger makes you do risky things you wouldn’t normally do, like tail-gating a slow-poke in the fast lane. When angry people lose control bad things happen.
Riding as “nobody”
To deal with anger one must understand it. If you get angry when someone cuts you off, the “you” that is hurt is not your body because they didnt even touch it. Cutting you off hurt your ego, your idea of yourself as “somebody” important! The ego is the basis of all social interaction with others. Little babies for example dont have an ego, an idea of themselves as cute or whatever. In time they develop an ego based on what the people around tell them, that they are smart or dumb say, and act accordingly. Yet whatever your ego is, it is entirely a creation of your mind. It is not who you actually are but who you think you are. TV shows like American Idol or Britain’s Got Talent often show people who think they can sing but can’t, and some who think they cant but can. The point is, your idea of yourself is entirely imaginary. And when you get angry at being cut off, what is “hurt” is this imaginary you. If you ride thinking you’re important, you get angry when others disregard you. The alternative is to ride as if you are nobody.
To succeed in society, it helps to see yourself as important so others also see you that way, as in “positive thinking” books. But on a motorcycle, ego can kill you. Asphalt doesnt care about your ego. When the body meets the ground, thinking you’re “tough” doesnt count. Road justice ignores social “rights” or who “should” give way. So when a driver offends you remember that your imaginary ego is being offended. If a car speeds past you, let them go. They once had a race between a racing bike and a racing car and the bike won, so there is no need to prove it again. Riding is about the real world, not the courtroom world. In an accident, fault doesn’t matter. What matters is who is the pot, because when the pot hits the stone the pot breaks. On a motor-cycle, you are always “the pot”. So when you ride, think you are unimportant, like a leaf on a tree, or a grain of sand on a beach.