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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Looking Like An Idiot - And Motorcycles...

I do not believe in living a life of regrets, because I would rather learn from experience instead of being told what to do.  The truth is, however, every day I step outside into nice weather and have the clean air fill my lungs, I feel the urge to hit myself in the head with something hard for selling my motorcycle.  My uncle was nearly killed on his Harley by a drunk driver over fifty years ago, and has lifelong injuries because of that night, but ever since I was a kid, these two-wheeled machines have fascinated me.  When I was nineteen, I restored my first motorcycle, and bought the one in the picture above when I was twenty-three.  Even though it was in brand new condition, hours and hours of my time went into working on that bike.  I built a custom exhaust from scratch, designed a very intricate illumination system for it, and I also learned the joys of carving into a curve at a steep enough angle that your foot pegs drag the asphalt and leave a lovely trail of sparks following you at night.  Those years were spent enjoying a dangerous freedom you cannot readily put into words.  There is one thing you are generally not told about riding a motorcycle until you experience it for yourself though, and that is where I will begin this blog - we riders call it "target fixation".

When I hear someone talk about "commitment" or being "committed" to some form of noun, I often wonder what their definition of those terms actually is.  Truth be told, I have seen far too many people in my life (including myself, on occasion) say they are going to do something, get all excited about their decision and then all but abandon the idea for no apparent reason other than a momentarily heightened emotion wearing off .  

Let me get one thing straight here because I am not about to go off on a tangent about people who give their goals or decisions to do things an honest try before coming to the realization of such choices not being a good idea for them.  I tried vlogging for about two weeks and realized it was not for me, I also took a shot at learning to play drums, and I even built a full-fledged race car for road racing in my garage with a few of my buddies one summer:
That's me in the fire suit and helmet, getting belted in.
Yet, with every single one of those things, I did give them a solid try and eventually decided doing so was not the best path for me to take for whatever logical reason came to be.  

The problem I have is the other side of the actual issue at hand of which I have also been a guilty party - saying you are going to do something and then making a half-assed, half-hearted attempt about giving any sort of motivating push to yourself as a way to accomplish exactly what you claimed you were going to do.  Hey, I have done exactly what I just described in the past, but with that, I realized there must be a time of maturity when we wake up, pay attention and realize 
"I am too mature to act like such a child."

What I am talking about is our definition of "commitment" and the direction we must take in order to stay committed to the things we speak so highly of.  I am pretty sure all of us have not followed through with something at some point in our lives, but with age and experience in the world we either become mature enough to stick with our commitments, or childish enough to stay in the past, making empty promises or talking about big things that we cannot back up.  

Why is this important and what does age have to do with anything?

Simple.  A developing mind is easily intrigued by many things and takes the exploratory actions we need to figure out exactly who we should be in life and in what capacity.  Time has everything to do with this action, because if not, all of these child-prodigy musicians constantly shown in the media would stick with their music skills for life, but truthfully, most of them divest into other interests and find other things they are skilled with doing as they enter into adulthood - which is fantastic and what we are supposed to do, because being good at something does not always mean it should be your career path.  The big problem lies within some of our minds who refuse to grow out of the phrases:
"I am trying to figure it out."
"One day, 'XYZ' will happen."
However, so many of us "say" we are doing great things, "say" we are going places, "say" we are making moves in our lives, but when it comes down to relevancy, we are sitting around with a lack of ambition, sometimes riding the wave of life on someone else's paycheck, and doing nothing but talking about the greatness that lies before us...and then we get closer to thirty years old, and before you know it...half of your life is gone.  Um, whoops?

Forgive me if I am wrong with any of this, but all I am saying is that making empty promises or saying you are going to make progress in your life, or help others in any capacity without proving yourself as well as your commitments prevents anyone from taking you seriously.  The thing is, if we are ever going to get anywhere in life, we have to take a hard plunge into whatever foray we commit to.  My good friend, Will, wrote some lyrics a few years ago that fit into this idea very well:
"If I fail, well then I failed - but at least I gave you something."
Exactly.  There are few things which make my skin crawl quite as profusely as seeing someone around my age who makes claims about what they want or are "trying" to do but cannot back up with tangible actions.  Chase something in every way you can if you say you are committed, because as far as I can tell, "committed" is actually defined as:
"Feeling dedication and loyalty to a cause, activity, or job; wholeheartedly dedicated." source
If you are unwilling to put forth those attributes to your cause, please keep your mouth shut so you prevent getting people's hopes up.

What does any of this have to do with motorcycles?  Let me explain.
When you first begin the process of learning to ride a motorcycle on the street (which is entirely different from riding in the dirt - trust me) there are certain situations you learn about control through nothing but real-world experience; one of those is "target fixation".  While riding a motorcycle, your mind must think about every move you are going to make in the future and anticipate your next action down to the millisecond because every bit of physics on earth is trying to get that bike to lay down on its side rather than stay up on two wheels.  When you approach a curve, at speed, you must look into said curve in order to anticipate where you will be within the next few seconds, the position your body must be in to make that turn, your natural intuition of how far you must lean over to make that happen, so forth and so-on.  But, if there is something else within that approaching curve which catches your attention (approaching car, tree, road sign, etc) your mind will fixate upon that object and you will no longer make the necessary actions to get around the curve, but head straight into the object you are staring at.  
Every time.  
It happens to every rider in the beginning.  My friend ran his brand new Harley-Davidson into a tree the same day he bought it, brand new, because of target-fixation.  True story.

My point is, our commitments have much in common with the idea of target-fixation on a motorcycle.  We can either commit to something and focus to be sure we honor those commitments while making an effort to get to where we said we were going, or get distracted and uncommitted to our original plan - fixating on something else instead and ending up somewhere we do not need to be.  
Much like running into a tree on a motorcycle.

The point is, at this age?
At this level of maturity?
Stick with your commitments or shut up.
If you say you are going to do something, give it all you have and learn from the experience - if it does not work, you still gave it all you had.
At some point, we all need to grow up and realize life is not fiction, and intentions get us nowhere.
Actions make progress, but every action has a window of time.

Grace and Peace,

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