Today I did something I rarely do. I rode for hours all by myself. The deep hum of the engine and the harmonized whine of tires on a mountain highway were my only companions as mile-after-mile rolled beneath my feet. The experience was vastly different from my daily cacophony of traffic, meetings, emails, anxious phone calls, and deadlines.
It feels good to escape, but it’s also a little destabilizing when all of that stuff suddenly disappears. I believe the never-ending mental noise of daily life can’t be good for me, for us. But withdrawing from it is hard, because so much of what we learn and need as adults is about joining, organizing and functioning within groups. We learn to fit in and put the needs of our organizations ahead of our own. It’s absolutely necessary for our success, but it can cause a problem. This organizational noise suppresses our inner voice. Most of my internal dialogue these days is about scheduling, efficiency gains and communication strategies. That’s important stuff, but it often leaves me feeling a little hollow. Sometimes I wonder when everyone will notice that I haven’t had a meaningful creative thought for months, maybe years.
Turning down the noise and re-learning to enjoy my own company is a big part of what I like about motorcycling. My plan over the next couple days is to get a little lost and then start looking for my less busy, less cynical self. Somewhere out here is that little boy who felt the thrill of potential every time he opened a box of crayons. He is the teenager who stood alone in a darkroom and stared in wonder as his first photographic print blossomed in a tray of developer. The slightly blurry image was of his father riding a motorcycle. His dad’s helmet sparkles in the summer sun. His eyes are serious and focused, but he is also smiling. It’s a blend of expressions that motorcyclists know well.