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Modern Life and Motorcycling

September 27, 2011

These days in so-called "civilized" countries anyway, we live in an artificial world. We watch TV and are shown simulations of things that we are expected to accept as real. We live and work in containers shielded from the rain, the heat, the cold, the outside sounds; and we drive in glass and steel cocoons away from the distractions of wind, sound, and smell, shielded from the inconvenient vagaries of the street surfaces we pass over.

 

TV shows us that a car can be chased at high speeds through a city, crash innumerable times, still keep going, and never hurt anyone but the "bad guys"—but it can't. We see Dr. Phil and a distraught family talking in front of a live audience, and a remote audience of millions, and we are supposed to believe what we are seeing is psychotherapy—but its not. Doctors give us the best medical advice from the comfort of their studios, without the inconvenient need for knowing our medical history—but they don't. "Reality" shows want us to believe they reveal how others actually go about their lives—but they don't.

 

We are spectators of others' lives, but even those lives are unreal, scripted lives with scripted characters with an eye to audience response, and no regard for the real world. A scripted life is not under obligation to reflect reality. We follow story lines instead of living our lives.

 

During commercial breaks scientific diagrams flash before our eyes describing the next breakthrough in toothbrush design; we know it is real science because the characters are wearing lab coats—but its not. Everything new is good and everything old is bad, so buy. But it's not true. We eat "home-made" meals at restaurants—but we don't.

 

Politicians debate and say they know the truth and have solutions that solve gritty problems—but they don't. Reality is something fluid and moldable to whatever they need it to be. The solutions are whatever is convenient to their campaign and which pleases their lobbyists. They will find the truth to be whatever supports their goals. Truth is sacrificed for expediency. They say they care about "The Country"—but they don't.

 

Wall Street brokers and bankers want you to believe they're honest and have your interests at heart—but they aren't and they don't. Morality and honesty are replaced by legality. Truth is what they can get by with and not break the law, and therefore claim honesty.

 

We eat our cheeseburgers, while we decry killing animals. There is a disconnect; a lack of understanding the chain of ends and means, cause and effect. The natural world of life in the wild, hunter and hunted, does not interfere with our unrealistic and Disney-esque image of cuddly bears and cute lion cubs

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We all fall victim of it. It is all so easy. I do, too, on occasion; I admit it. But for some it is not a momentary escape and entertainment. Some want to believe; they want to wrap themselves up in the cocoon of the modern world and not deal with the good, bad, and the ugly of the physical world. They trade life for sameness and predictability. Hopefully, for most of us TV and modern life's distractions are temporary, and we realize there is another world, a bigger world, of which we are all a part. We are not fooled and we want to connect with that real world, and in an intimate and physical way. People take many paths to make that reconnection. Some hike in the wilderness, some climb mountains, others SCUBA dive or explore caves. Sailing small boats in the big ocean was a way I used to do it. But nowdays for me, riding motorcycles makes that connection.

 

When riding a motorcycle, one can't bend the rules of physics or trade the truth for comfortable beliefs. Riding demands we pay attention to reality. If we choose to ignore it, or if we think we can make it what we want by wishing it so, reality will let us know, in usually painful ways, that we can not. Take that curve at 110, an easy thing to do for any movie character, and reality will slap you in the face—hard.

 

Riding a motorcycle removes the facade of wood, steel, and glass that usually isolates us from the world. We cannot ride and decline the invitation to smell the pleasant incense of spring in Georgia or the fecund fields of Indiana we are passing through. We cannot ride and turn off the wind or the sound of the motor between our legs. We cannot ride in the rain and ignore it, or in the cold and not feel the icy fingers of the wind. We cannot multitask by taking that important phone call while riding without reality showing us just how stupid that was. We cannot put it on cruise, ride half awake, and wake up at our destination. Constant vigilance is a requirement and a blessing.

 

To ride one must embrace the world, and be a part of it. You must be a participant, not an observer. Riding demands our attention and activity. Riding is not a passive function of existence; it is a hands-on and pay-attention action. There is no place for passivity on a bike. You must hold on and react to the road, the traffic, and the natural world around you. Riding is both pleasant and demanding, painful and pleasurable.

 

Most of all, riding connects us with reality, while everyday life often conspires to disconnect us from it. It is our escape from the fog of artificiality and our awakening from a dream-state. When we ride we live, instead of exist. Riding makes us acknowledge life, and invites; no, demands we take part in the world around us. Riding reconnects us with cause and effect and forces us to accept the reality of things. Riding rewards us with the state of being fully awake and living in the moment, a state so seldom attained completely by much of the modern world. It reminds us of who we really are and where we really live.

 

Cheers,

 

Road Dog

"Ride Your Own Ride."

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