Friday, March 09, 2012

Happiness is Not a Destination...

There is a moment before I press the starter button on the Vespa when everything becomes simple.  Even on cold mornings that requires a frustrating amount of time to put on, the moment when the ride begins is a door into a simple place.

Gordon Harkins displays a found object at Saint's Cafe.

Happiness is a strange thing.  I've learned over the years that it's not a destination.  I've heard stories that it's a state of mind.  And others have postulated it to be nothing more than a chemical reaction in  our brains resulting in an emotional reaction we collectively label happiness.

Most instructive to me is Thoreau's pondering:

Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder...

The butterfly appears while riding, and I shed the worries of the world and am grounded in the moments flying by on the road.

The past week saw the last of the snow evaporate and temperatures climb close to 60F.  I won't be sad to see the cold weather behind and warmer rides the norm.  In a few weeks these farm fields will grow green and the winter tires will come off the scooter.

Evenings are still cool but don't limit riding like frigid, sub-freezing ones not so far off.  In winter sighting riders is an infrequent occurrence.  Standing on the concrete deck of the parking garage I think I saw a butterfly...


bobskoot said...


I think happiness is a state of mind. You can be happy at work or not . It is doing what you like to do, if we are lucky our job is what we like, it would be a chore, otherwise.

Even riding can be a chore, if we are doing an errand, or going someplace we dislike, such as scooting to the dentist, but we could pretend we are scooting to the chocolatier instead to trick our mind.

most often Happiness is the journey . . .

Riding the Wet Coast

Charlie6 said...

Another thought-provoking post Steve....

Hmmmm, Happiness....yep, truly elusive when most wanted.....we get too caught up in wanting it I think but with no real plan to actually achieve it. Mostly, it is because we don't really know what we want....we get set in our routines....the status quo becomes the reason for existence....and happiness is not one to wait around for one to notice it.

As you probably know, happiness for me usually involves motorcycles.....usually ones with sidecars attached. So lately, happiness hasn't proven as elusive as usual!

Good posting


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Phil said...

When I rode, it felt like a great escape. Your mind concentrated on the road ahead, and what surrounded you. No time to think about the pain in your back, or how to fix a leak. Or what bills might not get paid this month. All those thoughts seem to wait until the ride is over and you've gotten off the bike.

Kevin Moore said...


My name is Kevin Moore and I just came across your blog and signed up for it. I know this sounds like crappy soliciting, but I though you may be interested in a website I just started a website for stories about motorcycles, friends, family and the open road called Bikes and Buddies:

It is a site for true stories (and more) and is for all types of rider. There’s three stories now. One is about how Gilby Clarke from Guns n' Roses, a Brit named Dave and I almost blew up the town of Twentynine Palms due to sheer stupidity.

Please check it out. I hope you enjoy it. And if you are interested feel free to subscribe for the email updates. There will only be one email per month when a new story is posted.



Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve:

I am happiest when riding too... Either a bike or something. But then again, I get happy writing about the experience too.

The trouble with the butterfly of happiness is that it sometimes comes in the dark — and has fangs.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Alan said...

It`s true, Steve. It`s not happiness we should pursue, but that which brings it. Riding the Majesty used to be what made me happiest. Now even better is day trips into New Hampshire with my fiance,Jayne, on the back. Looking forward to weekend trips to the Mid Coast this summer.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve:

I gave this a second read and came across the photo of Gordon Harkins.

"So that's Gordon Harkins," I thought.

I felt like we had been introduced.

Fondest regard,

Steve Williams said...

bobskoot: Well said. I agree, happiness is found during the journey and may even be the journey.

Charlie6 (dom): Thanks for stopping and commenting. Routines have a way of become our masters if we aren't paying attention. Riding offers a way out if we're lucky I guess.

Steve Williams said...

Phil: Riding is a great escape. Capital G great and small G great. Same goes for escape. Riding is exactly that for me and you it seems.

Steve Williams said...

Kevin Moore: Nice site. I'll have to check it out a bit more when I have time.

Mr. Riepe: You're just a happy guy. I have the feeling you'll find the butterfly, fanged or otherwise, wherever you are.

Gordon is a character. If he had a BMW he would fit nicely into your cast of characters.

Steve Williams said...

Alan: Trips to the midcoast sound wonderful. Certainly would have me smiling. You're right about the pursuit of happiness is the important part, not the happiness itself --though it's a nice feeling.

This morning a short, routine ride to work was pure happiness!