The past three days on the road have been uneventful: long rides, with only essential stops for fuel/ business/ rest. Departing from Albany marked a notable change in scenery: the lush forest replaced with arid and dry dirt, shivers replaced with sweat while sitting still. The roads have been straight -including Australia’s longest… that was definitely straight- and I’ve had a lot of time in the seat without doing much else at all…
…other than meditating.
Meditation doesn’t mean eyes closed with legs crossed, Lululemon active wear, rolled mats slung over shoulder, and a bunch of chirpy mid-30 year old females with perfect hair, meeting for a low-calorie brunch (dairy free, gluten free, vegan friendly, environmentally recyclable)… after overpaying a studio run by some relatively affluent so-and-so, who travelled to India once to get a certificate in something vaguely Sanskrit sounding with the word ‘yoga’ after it.
God, I find the popular western yoga movement absolutely hilarious.
Moksha. Enlightenment. Self-awareness. Self-realisation. I like the broader definition of the Hindu concept more than Buddhism’s Nirvana.
You can’t buy Mokhsha.
Throw a leg over and get on the gas. I bet Buddha would if he could. I’ll tell you why.
Senses are loaded to the brim with incoming information. You see, hear, feel, smell -no taste usually- your machine, while in a near constant state of heightened awareness, due to a potential risk to personal survival.
Your body responds to the bike also. The physiological changes with muscles firing off, those chemical dumps in the brain and blood stream? That’s real. That’s your machine talking to you. Listen to it.
The machine, in turn ‘breathes’ and acts responsively to real time rider input, and together, you exert mastery over the environment. Your own tiny bubble within time and space.
Human, machine, and road: The three are harmonious, and the rider must dutifully strive to achieve or maintain this state, despite the difficulty in doing so for prolonged periods.
Yes, distractions will come and go, affecting the level of awareness. Human brains didn’t evolve to do this. There might be a million thoughts to entertain -or ignore. There might be none. That’s where the mindfulness comes in. It takes practice, dedication, discipline, and probably a whole load of failure too.
You know what I reckon motorcycle moksha is?
It’s a moment.
You come around a crest. You’re on a completely empty straight.
Blue sky above. So clear, the only spot in it is the sun.
Dark gray tarmac below, your two tyres kissing it.
Sparse vegetation on either side, regrowing after a recent fire.
Six thousand revolutions screaming between your legs every minute, harmonising with the headwind hitting your helmet, muffled through earplugs.
You can hear your breathing.
You hold on to angrily vibrating handlebars. The occasional gentle nudges -from imperfections in the road your suspension wasn’t hungry enough to eat- landing in your hands.
Your neck is sore from craning it into the wind to keep your head upright; shoulders and arms in pain from holding on for nearly two hours. Choice of burning muscles made not by you, but the wind deciding which way to try to tip you over.
Then you look into the mirage at the horizon, a blur where sky and road constantly exchange colours.
A distant speck gradually grows… until eventually, a motorcyclist going the other way returns your wave, as he experiences the exact same thing you are.
And that moment… is why motorcycling is meditation.