Last weekend we rode our motorcycles over to Wisconsin. Due to schedule differences, it worked out easier to drive separately. The weather was beautiful. I left after my Saturday morning meditation class at the Twin Cities T’ai Chi Ch’uan Studio.
The shortest route was to take freeways to the studio in Saint Paul and from there to Wisconsin. Generally, I avoid freeways on my motorcycle because I don’t like being sandwiched on concrete between big trucks and people on cell phones who aren’t paying attention to the road. I kept thinking about those lines from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig:
You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. 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. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it’s right there, so blurred you can’t focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.
Then I realized that it is always real concrete whizzing by, and the metal surrounding you in a car only gives you the perception of safety. When I was young, I went through a phase where I tried to eat healthfully. The world didn’t end when I ate a french fry, and before I knew it I was adding the occasional glass of beer or wine to the meal. Being in a car basking in the sounds of my music made me feel insulated from all the other people “out there.” Gradually, pound by pound, I added extra weight which was interfering with my body’s ability to make and utilize vitamin D. My head had taken over my body, and unhealthy anger raised my blood pressure. My endocrine system was telling my body to deposit calcium in my arterial veins instead of my bones. I was a mess.
I’m trying to do better now. My body has been pretty patient with me, but I’ve lost my cape and no one is holding me. It’s time for my mind to be present and make it easier for my body to cope with the vampires.