|10-28-2013, 07:33 AM||#1|
Joined: Oct 2013
Location: Sarasota, Florida
Sphere of Awareness -- A useful idea??
The weather here in Sarasota has transitioned to its fall period with the morning temperatures in the cool 50’s followed by comfortable afternoons in the 70's. The skies are a soft celeste and there is no wind to speak of other than a welcome afternoon breeze. Ideal weather to ride a motorcycle. No more having to leave at dawn to avoid the heat, no more dripping sweat at stoplights, and no more sequestering yourself indoors during most of the day to avoid riding in an inferno. As I said, the ideal weather has finally arrived.
Today ride turned out to be a quick commute to the motorcycle shop to pick up a jacket liner for the cooler weather and replace my windshield which has sustained some scratches from my crossing-my-wheels several weeks back. On the way home I stopped for an early lunch at a burger joint. While eating I realized this is how many riders experience being on their motorcycle -- commuting around town, brief stints with stop-and-go traffic and generally little Zen-inspired riding. I cannot say it was unpleasant, in fact it was just the opposite. I dropped into a routine riding mode and found my mind drifting to random topics as I looked around. It felt like driving a car, a generally relaxing experience for me. If this was the only kind of motorcycling I ever did, however, it would be unfortunate: the motorcycling itself simply recedes from your conscious experience.
I did however have a 15-minute period of sustained riding that dropped me into a spontaneous contemplative mood. At such times I tend to observe my state of awareness and this time I saw my attention, both conscious and preconscious, was centered not only in the moment but in the future as well. This is as it should be. From the beginning of motorcycle safety class you are relentlessly told to look where you are going to be, not where you are. Many beginning riders, anxious about falling, have a tendency to look where they are, right in front of them, rather than where they are going, down the road. When anxious your focus stays too much in the moment and your sphere of attention drawn too tight from a safety point of view. The faster you are moving, the further down the road you need to be looking, an ironic cruelty for such anxious riders. Reflecting on this, I visualized a four-dimensional sphere of space and time surrounding me. If indeed one where fully in a here-and-now Zen moment, the sphere would collapse into a point. What we actually experience, however, is not a point but a volume of past present and true space and time. Just think about it, no? Heady stuff to think about it this way, yI guess. And what does this practically got to do with riding anyway? Maybe nothing, though I've learned to sleep on such thoughts since they return of their own accord if there is more to them.
The next day I went for what was to be a plesant four-hour ride to Key Vista Nature Park about 75 miles north from my home as the crow flies, apparently with a great view of the Gulf of Mexico and rich in birds and turtles: a promising photography location. An hour into the ride, the Spacetime Sphere of Awareness did indeed return, this time with a riding problem I've had for some time in tow: forgetting to turn off the turn signal after a turn. Despite a concerted effort to do this, I do not the vast majority of the time. I was ready to give up, just accept I was one of those guys riding around with his turn signal perpetually on, that dufus we all know now would include me. With the sphere of awareness and this ride problem side by side in my mind, however, I saw something new. When you are about to make a turn, you should be thinking ahead to set up the turn. When you are in the turn, you should not be thinking but simply doing it. And when you have ended the turn, you should be thinking about what is going on down the road and doing whatever it is in your here-and-now right then. What you should not be doing is thinking or doing something related to what you just did, like a completed turn. Ironically, the more you shift your awareness to the safety-correct place, the more you remove yourself from turning off the signal. If this is indeed the correct analysis, what then is the solution to turning off the turn signal? You could think to turn it off before the turn but that would confuse the drivers behind you. You could turn it off during the turn itself, incorporating it into the behaviors of turn itself. You certainly would not bother trying to learn to do it after the turn is over. Sure enough when I focused on incorporating it during the turn, I learned it in two trials. Perhaps many of you would have realized all this without needing to evoke this convoluted line of reasoning. For me, however, this helps me pinpoint where efforts to learn a new behavior should be focused. As I continued to ride, I immediately realized how much more could be explored and potentially understood using this sphere of awareness idea. What do you think?
Alas, my reflections on sphere quickly turned out to be the end of pleasant part of the ride. It was a downhill experience from there into four hours of misery. My ride started at 7:00 am on a decent enough note which included setting up the video camera to shoot footage and stopping for coffee. Having just picked up my jacket liner the day before, I felt set for the 50 degree weather. By 8:00 am, however, I felt a bitting cold cutting through my clothes and was close to shivering for the next hour. I learned an important lesson about how easy it is to underestimate the weather protection you need once your speed exceeds 45 mph -- a liner is only the beginning. The next three hours were followed by a general sense of fatigue that I’m still not sure what to attribute to: the pounding cold wind for the previous hour, what turned out to be the monotonous 40-50 mph riding punctuated with stop-and-go traffic, or the depressing industrial surroundings I found myself in the outskirts of Tampa (I thought riding around the city would be a better choice than through it). Whatever the reasons and despite making a couple of brief stops to snack and get my moral up, I don't think I've ever had such a miserable riding experience. It took me three hours to cover one hundred miles, line watching watching water boil when you forgot to turn the stove on. By the time I got to Key Vista Nature Park, I was so dejected I did not even stop. All I wanted was to sleep, so I found the nearest freeway and got home in ninety minutes. Frustratingly enough now that I was on my way home, the 70 mph freeway riding woke me up and I felt fine by the time I arrived home: I was surprised to learn the profound impact on my mind and body by the events of this ride.
All in all, a good learning experience i hope to never repeat. And this idea of the sphere of space and time helping us understand how past future and present interact during every moment we ride, may the cost of these two rides was worth coming out with that? What do you think?
May You Always Enjoy The Ride
Cruising, Photography & Eudaimonia
|10-28-2013, 07:48 AM||#2|
Joined: Nov 2004
Location: Oxbow Lake
Call it target fixation.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
It is not the destination, it's the journey.
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