Friday, August 22, 2008

Why I Ride Motorcycles plus an Update on Losing "Liberty"

For those who didn't read my recent post concerning selling my motorcycle, the short of it is: I’m planning on selling my bike which I’ve named “Liberty” because I can’t afford the payments right now. I’ve held on to it as long as I could.

Today I’m going to address some of the reactions I’ve heard:

“Are you going to give up riding, or are you going to get another bike?”

No, I’m not giving up riding and yes I will get another bike and just as soon as I possibly can.

“You ride your bike to work, isn't it cheaper (on gas) to just keep it instead of driving a car?”

Yes, but I will be getting another motorcycle or scooter to use for commuting. In the mean time I’ll be riding my bicycle on most days. That’s not a bad thing either. There will be no cost for fuel and I’ll get some much needed exercise too. I’ll also be saving the planet of some carbon emissions and helping reduce our dependence on foreign oil. (Hmm, I wonder if Al Gore gets around on a bicycle)

“What kind of bike do you want to get?” My leanings are toward the pure and the practical. A “KLR650” would be nice, or a scooter would be fine too. I think even if I had an unlimited amount of money to spend, I still wouldn't be getting a “Boss Hoss” or a “Goldwing” or even $25,000 worth of “Harley” chrome.

“Are you going to quit your motorcycle blog?” (Motorcycle & Scooter Talk)

Heck no, I enjoy it too much. It doesn't cost me anything except for time. Writing is something I love to do and so it’s time well spent. I’m not going to let the temporary condition of not owning a motorcycle stop me from writing about motorcycling. My philosophy is this: If a brick wall stands in my path, then I’ll go over or around it.

When my spiritually minded wife read the post lamenting my upcoming loss she had perhaps the most thought provoking reaction of them all. She laughed hysterically like it was the funniest thing she ever heard. I told her that I thought it odd that she found it funny, the one saddest post in a year’s worth of motorcycle blogging. Not to mention that this is the second bike I’ve lost in the past five years due to economic circumstances and she knows how much motorcycles mean to me.

She explained her reaction something like this: "Material things don’t matter, they come and they go." And she said, "be saddened by the loss of persons not things."

That is her way and she is right. Maybe I was overly sensitive to what seemed like her making light of my feelings and my writing. Her reaction served as a reminder that attachment to things is frivolous, even laughable. Maybe I taught her a little something too. Once she realized that I didn't think my post was intended to be funny, she lovingly straightened the hood on my jacket and said that she would pray for a miracle, so that I could keep the bike. I told her that if a miracle is coming it had better be soon, I've got a payment coming up in a couple of weeks! In her wisdom, she reminded me that the very nature of miracles is that they are not restricted by time.

I've come around to thinking about attachment to material things the same way she does, and increasingly so as I get older. Attachment to things is a proportional loss of freedom. With the one exception: motorcycles. For me Liberty is more than just an inanimate chunk of metal and rubber. She is the symbol and the means of my freedom. None of us, not one, are truly free however. We have responsibilities to our God (or Goddess), our families, our friends, our communities, the planet, our jobs, our pets, the list goes on and on. And that’s not a bad thing either. Complete freedom is an abstract goal that is unattainable and even undesirable. A certain measure of freedom however is life affirming and even re-creational.

When I’m on my motorcycle an ecstatic feeling overcomes me. It’s not just the wind, the motion, the adrenaline rush or the unobstructed view. It’s not only the focused consciousness, or the heightened awareness born of a sense of danger. Nor is it only the feeling of being in total control of a force much more powerful than I. It’s not just the feeling of synchronicity between man and machine. It’s all those things along with the sense of freedom I get while in the saddle.

And there is one more thing:

My brother the Mathematician once said to me, “riding motorcycles is tempting fate, the odds are that eventually you’re going to crash.”

Mathematically he is right of course. But I ride safe, minimize risk and play the odds to win. And riding a motorcycle straight towards “The Reaper” in an odd sort of way is riding away from him at the same time. For me riding allows living in the moment, and any given moment is the only moment that really exists. The past is memory and the future uncertain. The moment, this moment, is life eternal.

And so that’s why I ride and that’s why every day I will be expecting a miracle to come along so that I can keep my "Liberty", and if not, then that will be a lesson in detachment. I will take that lesson with my head held high and a smile on my face. Then my attention will turn towards my next bike and her name will be “Liberty 2”...

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Mr. Motorcycle said...

Glad to hear you aren't giving up the blogg, or motorcycles.

Mr. Motorcycle said...


irondad said...

I feel your pain. My reminder to be open to other viewpoints isn't meant to make light of the sadness you must be feeling.

Remember, Kano, that a freedom machine can take many forms. We may have preconceived notions about what our particular machine might be. Like you alluded to, the time might be right to open a whole new world of experience by exploring a scooter or a less expensive brand of bike.

You might even find fodder for a whole new blog. Something like
"Moped Madness on Mission Street!"

R.G. said...

Your finest post to date! I too have found the liberation that comes from divesting oneself from material things. When we recently moved we got rid of anything we hadn't used in the last two years. What an incredible feeling. I do agree that our motorcycles are in a category unto themselves though.

Conchscooter said...

Dude, I saw the saddness in the blog and I've seen your most interesting entries exploring riding and places since the fatal entry. Material things don't amount to much but giving them up willingly is one thing, speaking as a man who has travelled all his life and has no mementoes from the past, but being forced by circumstances to give up a treasured thing sucks. Buddha and the Goddess can take a hike.Modern Americans don't sit under trees waiting for alms. We use wheels and they might as well be fun. Oh and mathematicians be damned too. I like your bike and you make great use of it in your writing.

Earl Thomas said...

Well, I think that it's rather obvious what my response to the idea of getting a KLR might be, but I think the scooter idea is a great one too. One of these days, I'm going to find out what it's like to experience traveling by scooter.


Baron's Life said...

Hang in there and do what you have to do.
I hear ya...!!

Kano said...

mr motorcycle -Thank you, it's in my blood man!

irondad -My other "freedom machine" has been river rafts and kayaks. It's so much easier to jump on a bike though. -A scooter is on my list of intentions too. I've always thought about doing something spectacular on a scooter like a really long distance ride that nobody else would even think of! -Mission Street Madness? I don't know, that would mean I would have to actually ride on Mission Street and I avoid that slow moving parking lot at all costs!

r.g. -Thanks! I appreciate the encouragement. Your so right about the freedom of not having too much stuff!

conchscooter -Thank you. I know what you mean. I've gone through a really rough stretch of about 5 years. I figure the only useful attitude to keep is a positive one and so I'm looking forward to an upward swing in my luck!

earl thomas -Yep, the KLR is one that has been on my "short list" for some time. The scooter idea intrigues me too. About a year ago I acquired an old 1967 Honda Trail 90 and planned on getting it running and riding it around. Unfortunatly though I ended up having to sell it before I had a chance to get er' done.

baron's life -Thanks man and I will!

Sojourner rides said...

As Irondad said, "I feel your pain." And, I admire your perspective on it all...I value people over things but I'll tell you...I don't think I could be as rational as you are about this potential loss. But as my elders would say, "We don't get crosses we can't bear."

Lance said...

Kano, I too am sorry to hear about Liberty, but am glad to hear that there will be other "Liberty's" in your future. Also, it was great to read about your wife's perspective on this - I have found through personal experience that the prayers of a wife are powerful.