Friday, October 06, 2017

"Looking for adventure/And whatever comes our way..."

So long as I'm recalling Zen and the artlessness of youthful errors in judgement and enthusiasms, here's a shot from my motorcycle trip in '86, taken just as we've exited the northern perimeter of Yellowstone National Park. To my mind it almost perfectly encapsulates the trip as well as the pleasures and displeasures of riding a motorcycle.
If you meet the adventure on the road ... whatever.
That's my travelling buddy. We'd come from Salt Lake City that morning, and had a late lunch in the Old Faithful Dining Room. After lunch we moseyed over to the legendary geyser. While we waited we speculated what it might look like if you dumped a bunch of garbage into the hole. It spouted at roughly the appointed hour. Then we consulted the Yellowstone brochure.

"Any other geysers you want to see?"

Rhetorical question.

Back to Robert Pirsig, and Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:
“In a car you're always in a compartment, and because you're used to it you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You're a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. 
On a cycle the frame is gone. You're completely in contact with it all. You're in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”
What a load.

Take a look at that picture again.

Motorcycles.

Nobody talks about what an annoyance it is to get in and out of your rain gear, or to clear bugs off your helmet visor, or how a helmet visor makes you feel like your head is trapped inside a really small car -- thus removing the "thrill" of being out in the elements, "in contact with it all." Even if you take the staggeringly-less-safe option and wear a mixing-bowl with goggles, you're still getting bugs smeared across your visual plane and you're still looking through a screen.

You're still sitting -- passively consuming.

You're just doing it on a slightly less-comfortable, and more vulnerable perch.

What a feeling.

4 comments:

DarkoV said...

Helmet and just goggles....left out the flying insect sushi that you dealt with as you zoomed about..... Well...at least you were getting free protein.

Darrell Reimer said...

I never took that approach. I see some die-hards will wear bandannas over their nose and mouth. At that point I have to wonder what could possibly return them to their senses.

Yahmdallah Bjorknickerfod said...

It's not about the vehicle; it's about the viewer.

Whisky Prajer said...

It's not the ride, it's the rider? I can buy that, with provision.

I still have motorcycle dreams, in which the vehicle plays the role of liberator -- bringing me to some exotic locale I've been keen to see but for one pedestrian reason or another have not yet managed to get to. When I re-posted this picture I realized the destination my psyche frequently "delivers" me to is roughly where this shot was taken -- Southwest Montana, in fact, and some mythical rendering of the same in my consciousness.

Back in '86 it felt like a part of me was finally waking up when we got to Montana. It was the least-cluttered road we'd driven -- often it felt like it was just me and my traveling companion, and the foothills, the prairie, the sky. We took a wrong turn and went many, many miles before we realized it. By then we had to fully commit to the error and keep going, so we could reach a place to park, eat and sleep. It finally felt like we were doing what we had originally set out to do. We managed two and a half days of that, pretty much the limit for us at that comically tender age.

When I got home I sold the motorcycle and bought a bicycle, and ever since then I've had this great feeling when I climb aboard a bicycle that I had hoped to get on the motorcycle. I don't have bicycle dreams though. It's always the motorcycle.