I sold my Motorcycle to Buy a Camera

A picture of the author, smiling widely, standing by his newly purchased motorcyle.
The Day I Took Her Home

I bought a motorcycle during COVID-19 lockdown, and I, somewhat recklessly, used my unemployment funds to buy it. What else was I going to do with that money? Go on a vacation, buy clothes I couldn’t wear, or save for retirement?

I was in love. I rode every day for a few week. Sometimes it was just around the block, or I would ride up and hour and a half from Seattle to Bellingham. I felt a sense of freedom and connection, which was just what I needed during lockdown. It was the perfect socially distant past time. Riding was fun for its own sake, meaningful in itself.

35mm Film, EF 50mm 1.8

It was more than mere fun. I had just read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which was an amazing book that ended up being much deeper and academic than I had anticipated. It made riding real. A motorcycle wasn’t a toy or a mere means of fuel-efficient transportation; it was a metaphor, a thought form, theories (mathematics, engineering, metallurgy, chemistry) that had turned ideas and theories into an aesthetically beautiful machine. And I could travel, seeing freely with no windshield or metal cage.

I had my bike for almost exactly thirteen months. We rode 9,400 miles together through Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and San Juan Island. Most of the time we were alone. But we were often with friends.

During COVID quarantine, I also bought a camera, a used Canon 80D, a 50mm 1.8 lens, and a 24mm 2.8. It was a good beginner setup.

I had two hobbies, and they worked nicely together.

But I sensed an opportunity cost.

After some months of paid unemployment, I started working. I would occasionally commute to work on my bike. And I would ride on weekends. I was beginning to ride aggressively. I felt that I was beginning to lose the sense of thoughtful meditation that I had first started riding, unless I had a passenger. Something was missing.

After a week of reflection, I decided to sell the bike. Why? Because of the opportunity cost.

Snow Day in Seattle, Canon 80D, 50mm 1.8 (February 2021)

Our lives are short, and our resources are scarce. It would be nice to master one-hundred hobbies and deeply cherish one-thousand lovers. But life won’t allow it. We are more rewarded when we focus and specializeā€”that is, when we sacrifice. So, I sold my bike: I liquified it into money, and then I re-congealed it into a different form.

I bought an R6, top-tier L-Glass lenses, and I built a computer, because my aging MacBook Pro wasn’t keeping up. This new equipment will allow me to operate on a professional level. The only thing holding me back now is my skill and knowledge. And for that, I will have to sacrifice time.