Since my favorite season to ride is upon us I thought I'd share some lessons I've learned from being on my Harley that are also applicable to life, in general.
Focus on where you want to go, not where the danger lies.
Bikers are taught that in the unfortunate circumstance that you find yourself riding out of control and potentially into a crash, you should focus your eyes on where you want the bike to go and not where the crash could happen. If you're going around a corner too hot and see the edge of the road in your future, focus on the road and not the edge of the cliff where certain danger lies. What a perfect metaphor for life! How often do we get so caught up in fear as we ride through life that we focus on potentially negative outcomes instead of our intended destination. The fear and fixation can paralyze us into going exactly where we don't wanna go; a horrible self-fulfilling prophesy. Yes, danger lurks in many situations, but you've gotta have the composure to see past it and not be hypnotized by it. Smile as you ride past those fiery demons on your personal journey through life.
Fear can be fun.
Let's be honest. Sitting on top of a controlled explosion that moves rapidly on two thin slices of rubber across an unpredictable surface is dangerous...but that is part of why motorcycling is fun. Bikers embrace fear and danger with a reckless bravado. Inasmuch as riding is not for everyone, everyone can use a bit of biker attitude. Again, fear paralyzes too many people: fear of failure, fear of pain, fear of suffering. Fear can stymie us to the point that it prevents us from reaching our potential. If you're letting fear guide your thoughts, inject a little biker bravado into your psyche...you'll be better for it!
Know your own limits.
Everybody doesn't have the skill to ride a wheelie for a mile or drift their motorbike through a turn like a professional. A large amount of the crashes that happen on two wheels are because riders push way past their limits. On one hand, you can't let fear freeze you; but on the other hand, don't be stupid. Know thine self!
Motorcycles handle in a completely different way than 4-wheeled vehicles. You have to countersteer a motorcycle once you're going over 25mph which seems very counterintuitive to new riders. Leaning your way through a turn for the first time (at any rate of speed) makes one's butt pucker tighter than shrinkwrap.... But eventually you learn to trust the machine and understand that it will stick to the road and move properly in spite of what your brain is telling you. I honestly cringe when people say "trust the process" because it's very vague, but IF you understand how "the process" is supposed to work, then the saying has value. I know my motorcycle and the parts on which it rides. I know I don't have sticky tires, so I'm not gonna fly into a corner with the same speed as a sport bike on the track. So, if you're studying to be a songwriter, educate yourself on that specific process to mastery and have faith that the knowledge you are acquiring will eventually pay off. If you're studying medicine, talk to successful practitioners and learn their process the same way I learned my bike. Then, you can have faith that your journey is on course despite the angst thumping in your chest.
Once you dive into a turn, you've gotta be committed. Your goal is to keep the line you choose, keep the throttle open, and straighten the bike back up when the curve ends. The worst thing you can do is lean your bike around a bend at 55mph and decide to make a drastic change. Quite frankly, that could be your ass. Now, navigating life's decisions is rarely a life-or-death choice, BUT the idea of sticking to a decision until the arc straightens is valuable. See it through. At the end of the turn is a stronger, more confident rider.
It's about the journey—not the destination.
Yes, I might plan a long ride and my ultimate destination is a SWEET spot, but that's not where the purest joy happens on a bike. It's that moment of feeling like an Eagle soaring through the sky as you sweep around a perfect bend. It's that moment when you look to your right while rumbling down an open road and smile at the scent of the air and the sight of rolling green hills. Life is a song and the moments we experience are the same as when the bass drops in or when the chorus starts. Then we turn off our motorcycles and the song has ended. So, as we all ride though our own journeys in life, please keep this final and most important rule in your mind. It's about the journey! Embrace your inner biker and ride safely through life with a heart full of faith, a soul free from fear, and just enough reckless bravado to enjoy an endless adventure of growth.