Friday, April 10, 2009

A State of Mind

On the way home from work I was doing a bit of musing as I wandered around a farm field with my camera and was thinking about how I often come to be in places like this.

Dan Bateman, author of Musings of an Intrepid Commuter, recently wrote about the state of mind that riding can put you in – one decidedly different than that sitting behind the wheel of an automobile. I revisited the two paragraphs below a number of times. What Dan wrote soundly struck a chord and neatly sums up the magic of riding for me.

There's something about riding a motorcycle that puts us into a different state of mind than cagers. Sometimes that's bad. We're more likely to find ways to get into trouble, you know! On the other hand, or maybe just the other side of the same hand, I find myself so much more open to the world around me. I see more, feel more, and thus experience more, than when in a car. I find myself so much more willing to wander off the beaten path. The age old question. What's down there? Let's go find out. I'm not so likely to bother with it in a car or my truck. On a bike, in vivid contrast, I'm ready for adventure at a moment's notice.

I think most people who ride experience the same thing. Using a bike for regular transportation amplifies the effect. I spend a lot of time on a bike. So I also spend a lot of time in an open and inquisitive state of mind. It's become a regular trait of mine. Riding is a Zen-like journey. There's so much personal growth that comes as a result of, but not directly tied to, riding. Thus my journey Monday evening.
Musings of an Intrepid Commuter, April 9, 2009

Riding strips away a lot of the noise that builds through the day and can open the door to adventure. I’m not talking about the big, heroic rides across continents, but rather movement through a regular day, through the daily rituals of life. When I push the Vespa back onto its center stand it is almost always to look around. At nothing and everything. I feel the same way I did when I was a kid and everything seemed new and treasure is everywhere. I’m fortunate that I can ride regularly and enter this state of mind.

Dan talks about how a motorcycle makes him more willing to wander off the beaten path. I have to agree. I seldom wheel my Ford Ranger off the beaten path. The enclosed comfort in a modern vehicle makes those turns ponderous and difficult. Or more often just unimportant. I don’t often feel like a kid in my truck. I know it can be done because I used to prowl the Central Pennsylvania landscape in a truck with my view camera in tow. I would move slowly, just as I do on the scooter, and travel down every unmarked path searching for photographic treasure. But it was never easy and I always had to push past the slothful comfort of padded seats and stereophonic music. The Vespa appears in these pictures without any need to push.

Riding to work the next morning was a repeat of the previous evening. Another path, another opportunity to breathe in the world. They aren’t dramatic rides but they are opportunities to be present, something that is more difficult to achieve amidst the noise of daily living. 

I’ve been here before but each time I stop it’s the first time I’ve been here.


Conchscooter said...

It makes all the preceived risk worthwhile eh?

Conchscooter said...

"perceived" perhaps.

Steve Williams said...

Conchscooter: I'm not sure I would take the risk if riding was purely a recreational activity. Regardless, I do ride and it continues to be an amazing experience.

cpa3485 said...

Harvey, over at American Scooterist Blog was talking recently about going for a ride and getting lost. He had been feeling really cooped up I think because of a long Minnesota winter.
I have been cooped up a bit myself recently, but just because of work. How I long for April 16 to finally arrive, so maybe I can go for a long ride, get a little bit lost and smell the roses a bit. It has been awhile since I have done that. It will be nice to hoe for a ride with no real purpose in mind other that getting away from the beaten path a bit and for the pure pleasure of the ride.

A. Scooterdawg said...

Nothing like riding a scooter. Gas doesn't matter. Distance doesn't matter. Speed...doesn't matter.

Heightened awareness of the world. I use a scoot for all my driving/riding--and notice this quite often. On the scoot I can see the sky. I can go wherever. I can get lost on the back-roads.

It's pure zen. Now if only I had a camera.

irondad said...

Wow! I feel almost famous. Seriously, you put the icing on the cake. The wonderment that kids feel is something to be strived for. It's so easy to become jaded. Being jaded makes us turn up our noses at wonderful treasures right underneath them. What a pity. Bikes are preventative medicine in that regard.

Of course, you've been the quintessential role model for that trait since the beginning of your blog.

P.S. Now I know what to get Conch for Christmas. A dictionary! Although "preceived" could be accurate if he has a preconceived notion of what he is about to perceive.

Bob Olcott said...

Delightful comments today. CPA has been filling out forms long enough, and I hope your tours after the 15th delight you; glad you didn't catch "cabin fever"-from being cooped up all winter. Irondad-always a pleasure, also; I'm reminded of an old campaign slogan in my political days: "Find out what the children are wondering, and wonder it!"

Steve Williams said...

cpa3485: Getting lost is harder and harder to do and a real gift when it happens. I know a lot of people find it a major inconvenience because it seems to happened when on the way to an appointment but that always seems to be more of a "can't find the place" rather than being lost.

I hope April 16 finds you soon on the road and free. If it makes you feel any better I still have to do my taxes. I did crack open TurboTax last night and will finish tonight with plenty of time to spare. *grin*

ScooterDawg: You are EXACTLY right. And seeing the sky is an amazing little benefit of riding on two wheels. It is easy to overlook when thinking about riding. But on the road you are always under the sky....

irondad: You are famous. Bikes as preventative medicine. That is a good way to think about it.

Conch tries. Being in that tropical climate softens his concern for things like choosing the right word *grin*

But he got the essence of the idea perfectly!

Bob: The times I feel old is when I find out what kids are wondering....

Conchscooter said...

I need a spell checker, not a dickshonary. Irondad is awesome and actually likes helping people. Remarkable.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve:

Nicely written... Nice pictures... Good quote.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

LinxStreet Scooters said...

Gorgeous landscape photos, and pretty good looking Vespa too.

Cagers just don't understand that we were never meant to ride around in metal boxes with wheels on them. It's so unnatural. Whether it's on a motorcycle, scooter, moped or motorized bicycle, it's just better than being in a car or truck. Even when it's raining out and you're covered in mud.