Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tangible versus Intangible reasons for riding a motorcycle

For motorcycle riders, the question "Why do you enjoy riding a motorcycle?" seems pointless. The stock answer from an impatient rider would be, "If you want to know, why don't you ride one and find out?" The question may be hard to answer because the answer requires a rider to communicate his or her thoughts, feelings, and emotions and connect with the listener. And the listener may have never ridden a motorcycle, and may have no interest in doing so. This is not easy.

If I were to give it a try, my response would be, motorcycle riding generates the right balance of tangible and intangible feelings in the rider. If you care about this sort of thing. Caveat: For those who have substantial barriers to appreciating motorcycles (fear, preconceived notions, bias, indifference), this or any other explanation will seem completely pointless. 

(Which leads me to the best possible advice I can give--do not try to convert anyone to be a motorcycle rider or make them like it. But that is a topic for a different blog)

You entire body and mind is engaged when riding a motorcycle. You have to maintain your balance, constantly use your hand-eye coordination, you hear and feel the motorcycle's engine and change gears to keep it smooth and comfortable, I could go on and on.

The intangible part is the sensations that are generated when you view a beautiful scenic route, smoothly taking a curve, and the feeling of independence.

It is crucial that you observe the thoughts, feelings, and emotions with complete equanimity. I have noticed more than once, if I give in to the pleasant sensations, if I relax to much, or my concentration wavers, I am swiftly brought back to reality when my motorcycle twitches because I went around a curve too fast, or hit an unseen bump on the road. This generates a lot of unpleasant sensations, which I have to observe with complete equanimity as well. In simple terms, avoid panic and rash moves when moving at high speeds.

The tangible and intangible feelings perhaps sum up the value proposition of riding a motorcycle. You can get these feelings from other sources, some may say this is true of flying aircraft and sailing boats. Yes, that is true. But you are here because you have an interest in motorcycles, so I will proceed with that assumption!

This leads me to the general principles of communicating with your fellow human beings. How to provide the information required by your listener, whether at work or at home, how to assess readiness for change and action, and how to deal with the pleasant and unpleasant sensations that arise when communicating with your fellow human beings, is a vast topic and takes years of practice to master. Numerous books have been written and more continue to be written. Most of these focus on the "how" and the "mechanics" and very few try to teach the "feel" part of communication.

Ultimately, mastery in communication requires skill and taking an interpersonal risk. The ultimate skills of communication--knowing when to be quiet and not say anything, and knowing when to listen, and knowing when to speak--can only be learnt, not taught.