Sunday, March 16, 2014

Escaping from/to Reality (on a motorcycle


As I begin to ride, I feel a sense of calm come over me. I am not wildly excited about riding, nor am I petrified with fear. I feel calm, or, if you prefer, equanimous. This is the zone where I can truly enjoy the ride, without anxiety or fear or over-confidence.

When I lose equanimity during a ride, I tend to take risks that prove disastrous (yes, it has happened, but I recovered quickly) or I tense up and open myself up to the possibility of mistakes.

As a fellow motorcyclist put it in his post somewhere, when I ride, the "layers of bullshit" just peels away, as I get away from the ups and downs of my daily life.

This troubles me. I wish to ride because it requires me to be equanimous, and there is joy in being equanimous. But I do not wish to run away from reality to get this joy. I wish to enjoy my day-to-day existence as well, with the same joy that I get when I ride. What I am trying to say in a roundabout way, is that I am trying to be equanimous in my day-to-day life, but succeeding better when I am on a motorcycle.

Why is that?

For one thing, when I am on a motorcycle, I have to pay complete attention to what I am doing. It is a matter of life and death. I plan ahead, but also adjust and go with the flow. For another, I take action or take evasive action without judgment. There is no room for losing my temper or being critical of events and people. People around me treat me with respect and caution because what I am doing is very clear. I ride to enjoy myself, they don't want to spoil that. I could be of danger to them, so they are careful around me on the road. I train hard, practice my skills, read a lot about motorcycles, but ultimately, the tasks on a motorcycle are simple.

Reality is different, tasks are more complex, there are multiple personalities at home and work, thoughts (cravings and aversions) crowd into my mind and paralyze me, I lack skills in a few crucial areas, and I have trouble decoding the contradictory and critical feedback from my fellow human beings.

This means I have to work harder in my day-to-day life. If I accept this reality (hard work), then the situation begins to resemble a motorcycle ride. It actually feels like a lot of little motorcycle rides, and so I need to stop between rides, clean my bike, check fluids, give the engine a rest, and then continue. 

One way my day-to-day life is "better" (not a satisfactory description, but you'll get the point). I can afford only one bike, and that bounds my capabilities. In real life, I can become a bigger bike with my efforts.

Perhaps this is too simple an analogy. I know there is more to it. But for now, this gives me some calm.