“Everything remains unsettled forever, depend on it” ~ Henry Miller
Occasionally I let my guard down. I stop making plans, suspend networking, and pause projects. I simply enjoy life and doggy paddle in the waves of time, assured that life is relatively stable. I believe I’m not alone in this. How many times have you heard or read that we need to slow down and live in the moment?
However, recent events have shown that this doggy paddling approach isn’t working. I don’t believe this “Live in the moment” business is wrong, but my understanding of it has been incorrect. I’m coming around to the idea that “Live in the moment” doesn’t mean we should attempt to pluck moments out of time and experience them like photographs. “Living in the moment” is a mindfulness of how this moment is happening because of the previous moment. It also includes how this moment sets up the next one, and so on. “Live in the moment” might be similar to riding a motorcycle.
An example from motorcycling: Successfully riding through a high-speed sweeping turn isn’t as easy as it looks. To begin with, there are a lot of external forces. Road quality, traffic conditions and weather are major factors. Toss in an occasional animal that chooses this moment to dart onto the road, and you’ve got a lot to account for. There’s also the stuff that’s happening in and to your body. Pain and fatigue are your primary enemies on this front.
Living in the moment in the middle of the turn
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. It involves your experience and skill, but it includes trust and faith in others too. This is the moment of truth.
All 900+ pounds of you and your motorcycle are leaning at 45 degrees. You are in fact performing a controlled fall that’s happening at 40 mph. You are living in the moment between braking and acceleration. The bike is in the right position – on a good line because of the correct application of just enough brake a moment ago. That’s vital; too much brake and you run the risk of falling into the turn, not enough and you’ll overshoot your lane. The goal here is to achieve a perfect balance between gravity and centrifugal force. If you’ve done it incorrectly then this is when you start paying for the error of your ways. If you’ve done it right then you’re about to experience the best moment of motorcycling.
Now the faith part: A month ago you had your bike serviced. The mechanic did the basics and more. You are trusting that he was thorough and put everything back the way it’s supposed to go when he was done. You’re also trusting the skill and knowledge of the engineer who designer your fuel injectors. You have faith in your beautiful black tires and the debris-free gasoline that’s flowing through your fuel lines. A mechanical failure at this moment will cause an unrecoverable situation.
In the next moment your brain will fire signals to your right hand; telling it to begin twisting the throttle. The timing will need to be precise, and you’ll have to feather the power. You can’t just crank it. If you continue doing everything correctly you’ll feel and then hear the engine as it picks up the pace. You’ll feel the rear tire grip a little harder as it pushes you around and out of the back half of the long sweeping turn. But all of that is still to come. Right now you’re living in the moment between braking and acceleration.