May 12, 2020: Zen and the Art of Not Dying on a Motorcycle

For the first time in my life, I took a motorcycle on the freeway, and it was the most fun I’ve had since I dropped acid a few years back during my Hunter-S.-Thompson-meets-The-Archetypes-and-the-Collective-Unconscious phase.

Oh but if I knew then what I knew now.
This story starts almost exactly one year ago. I was four months out of college, and I had just started working Amazon Web Services as a contract specialist. I was awarded a $15k signing bonus which I quickly transmuted into hiking equipment, plates of oysters, generous tips, and drinks, and drinks, and drinks for friends. I had spent well-over half of my bonus before I received it with my first paycheck, not that that seemed like a problem at the time since I was receiving around 4k every months after taxes and 401k contributions, which I thought was quite good for someone who studied the humanities in school and didn’t have any “real skills.”
I was making good money, but I was spending better money. So, you can guess how the story goes when I tell you a lot of bad things happened at once when I “was fired/quit” seven months later and simultaneously lost a quasi-legal battle with my landlord. And things continued to get worse—financially speaking.
This isn’t a plea for help or another woe is me story. I’m not poor. I’m not starving. I just have debt and limited income. All of this is happening during COVID-19 which just the icing on the cake. Anyway, that’s enough of a pity party. Here’s the point:
When things are slow and shitty—when life is below the norm—, what really really matters to you becomes much more obvious and shining: you learn to appreciate things more, but only if you have the courage to look past your own misery. And I learned that I didn’t value money; I valued spending money, and the way I was spending money was actually a miserable affair. After my time at AWS, I became a barista who had to pinch pennies, but my well-being improved.
Anyway, this weekend I had the opportunity to ride a motorcycle. I’ll save you the descriptive details about how riding a motorcycle is a metaphor for life; if you want that then read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. (Or my future blog posts, probably)
I learned that I value riding a motorcycle for its own sake. It is an end in itself.
Nearly everything I do, including this blog, is aimed at accomplishing something, bettering myself. And I know my “self-development” has paid dividends. But getting on the highway and pulling the throttle open on an R3 was life changing.
While I was on the freeway, I was focused and in the moment: my body found a meaningful metaphor, and that metaphor happened to be incarnated in this physical world in the form of a motorcycle. Philosophy be damned; I found a new itch that great minds and books can’t scratch.
In hindsight, I didn’t even enjoy acid for its own sake. I was on an enlightenment quest, taking increasingly heroic doses on a journey to find the solution to (my) suffering, which I might add, ended terribly. I suppose the same thing could be done on a motorcycle, and I think that’s how a lot of young guys die: they’re chasing a moving threshold rather than enjoying the ride—however fast or slow that ride may be.
Maybe, if I get a motorcycle, I’ll devolve into a speed chasing junkie. But for the time being, saving up for a motorcycle seems like the right thing for me to do, because I want to ride.
On an unrelated note, I found this video from 2003 because the phrase “Spirit of Gravity” came to mind, and I couldn’t figure out where it came from, so I had to google it. And now the song is stuck in my head.

I need to plan my thoughts out better. These posts meander.

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