In philosophical contexts, one of the greatest challenges we face is: where does one begin? Thought, and the study of thought with all its intricacies doesn’t have a finite beginning or end, so where do we begin?
I think the answer is that we begin “during.” That’s kind of the crux of it in life, isn’t it - this moment, the “during.” Where does life start? Conception, the moment before, the moment of birth, the moment of a thought, a word, the moment of reason? The past but a memory, and the future uncertain, what is real but now, this moment, the “during?” Riding a motorcycle makes this abundantly clear. At the beginning moments of riding, before the bike obtains gyroscopic stability, it’s hard to say you are really “riding a motorcycle” because the machine isn’t yet operating in the way a motorcycle typically operates. It’s not until you’re rolling along “during” the ride that you’re really riding.
If I had to build a toolkit for proper thinking, the motorcycle would be among the first items on my list.
We live in a world of thought and ideas. We are inundated by the unimportant, the meaningless, and the absolute waste. Worse off, we are led to believe these things have value. How can one learn to sort the truth from the dross? Experience is the answer, dear reader, and there are very few experiences a person can have that will refine the mind in the way riding a motorcycle can.
So let’s begin at the “during.”
During the ride, the motorcycle teaches us lesson #1: Just Keep Going. This isn’t an operational lesson, it’s a life lesson, but we learn it through operation. The Motorcycle only does three things: GO, STOP, and TURN. That’s it. Even when stopped, you’re about to go again, unless you’ve made it to your destination. So, everywhere between the ambiguous “start” of your ride all the way up to your destination... Just Keep Going.
Wobbly start? Just Keep Going. Rock In Boot? Just Keep Going. A Bit Chilly? Just Keep Going. Hip Cramp? Just Keep Going. Turned Too Wide? Just Keep Going. Cell Phone Fell Out of Your Pocket? (I saw this happen to a guy on a big Harley wearing shorts and sandals. I don’t usually laugh at the misfortune of others, but that time, I laughed really hard). Just Keep Going! Itch on Your Back? Just Keep Going. Wind Gust? Just Keep Going. Sudden Rain Just Keep Going. Driver on Cell Phone Almost Kills You? Just Keep Going. Wish You Wore Different Underwear? Just Keep Going. Highway Speed Grinds to Gridlock? Just Keep Going. Accidental Wheelie? Just Keep Going. Oh Crap, That was a Cop? Just Keep Going...But maybe slow down, or maybe speed up; it’s situational...
There are times you’ll need to Stop, Rest and Wait (see rule #6), but for the most part while you’re riding, you Just Keep Going! The bike doesn’t stop rolling just because conditions change. Life doesn’t stop rolling either. So just keep going. Most likely, you’ll survive. And, if you don’t survive, then you don’t need life lessons anymore!
#311, Matthew J. D'Anca, Sr. shares the life lessons he's learned since he became a motorcyclist in 2005. Though the knowledge he has gained has been paramount to improving his skills behind the handlebars, it has been even more critical in improving his life.