Symbolic Lessons From Motorcycling

Symbolic Lessons From Motorcycling

By my own design (and without much effort) the wisdom of symbolism flows into every facet of my life….including motorcycling. It’s been a while since I’ve taken the big rig out on the road, but I still remember the thrill of rolling down country highways on my Softail (with custom pipes that would make your ears bleed, lol).  I also remember a few symbolic lessons from motorcycling.  Here are 5 top takeaway lessons from motorcycling that still serve me today (on or off the road).

5 Symbolic Lessons From Motorcycling

Symbolic Lessons From Motorcycling
Symbolic Lessons From Motorcycling

1) Know Thyself.  Know Thy Limits.

While motorcycling, I’ve learned the road can be unforgiving if you don’t know your place on it.  “Temet nosce.” Which means know thyself in Latin.  That means knowing your limits too.  Big lesson.  Not knowing leads to false bravado, or worse, a type of ignorance that leads to fatality. -Same holds true in real life.  Not recognizing our various inner natures can lead to falsely motivated actions.  We can avoid accidents and wrong turns by taking candid stock of our many facets.  Facing ourselves (both light and shadow) allows us to take educated action when situations call for it.

2) Some Rules are Absolute. Some Rules, not-so-much.

On the road, there are all kinds of laws.  Traffic laws, sure…but also laws of gravity and aerodynamics.  Some of these are absolute.  For instance, if the road turns one way, and your body turns the opposite – you’ve broken an absolute rule and the consequences will be unpleasant. However, some rules can be bent.  Which ones? As in real life, it’s our responsibility to know which ones.  Motorcycling has prompted me to poke around the “rule book of life” and challenge the establishment.

3) Look Where You Want to Go.

If you’ve never ridden a motorcycle, one of the most important things to know is the bike will go where your eyes go.  When you’re turning, move your entire head and point your eyes into that curve – the bike will always follow (this includes looking down at the pavement which could lead to more unpleasantness). This translates into a profound lesson.  If you have a vision or a dream, look toward it and everything else will have no choice but to comply.  Let your vision be your lead.

Symbolic Lessons From Motorcycling
Symbolic Lessons From Motorcycling

4) Be Courteous, Not a Pushover.

Motorcycling can be very social, and a lot of cyclists are extremely warm-hearted and friendly.  In fact, motorcyclists almost always hail each other with a hand wave when passing each other on the open road.  This, I’ve got to say, is uber-cool.  Mostly, common courtesy is easily maintained amongst riders, and there is a sense of camaraderie. There are circumstances, however that are not so nice.  Other cyclists who have something (heaven knows what) to prove can be a bit nasty.  Other drivers in cars (called “cagers” in cycle-speak) can be a source of nastiness too or worse, he/she is oblivious to your presence (it’s never good to have a brain-dead two-ton trucker cut into your lane whilst on a motorcycle). What to do? Motorcycling has taught me to maintain a consistent level of courtesy and respect for others while at the same time be willing to assert myself when my inner gut inclines me to do so.  Learning self-assertion is a life lesson worth its weight in gold.  It’s a fine art.  There are ways to convey your power without being a b*tch.  Likewise, there are ways to extend graciousness and courtesy without sacrificing.  Mastery of this balance is tantamount to practical enlightenment.

5) Go for Comfort, not Cool.

To many people (including me), motorcycling is sooooo cooool.  But just like in real life, aiming for “cool” on a motorcycle can lead down a dead-end road.  For example, cool motorcycling gear is not always the right gear.  I learned early in the game I’d rather look like a complete idiot and be warm, protected, and comfortable than look cool.  There are things I incorporate into my ride that are probably pretty dorky looking – but they make the ride more enjoyable. Furthermore, I rode my first scoot in high school where I was deeply competitive with the French horn in symphony.   I had to strap my very awkward 3-foot wide horn case on the back of the bike to commute.  This does not look cool….no matter how you slice it (I know because my peers were quick to point this out).  Oh well.

Symbolic Lessons From Motorcycling
Symbolic Lessons From Motorcycling

Final Word About Symbolic Lessons From Motorcycling

Forget what everybody else is doing (or what they’re looking at), and enjoy the journey in your own style, and let nothing stand in your way in your pursuit of happiness. I hope these thoughts about symbolic lessons from motorcycling were helpful and inspiring for you. As always, thank you for reading!

Mighty brightly,

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