My name's Billy. I am an aspiring yogi, and an expiring motorcycle racer. And I recently had this insight, how riding my bike and living my life were analogous to one another. I thought of all the advices, tricks and ways to ride better, faster, safer and more enjoyably, and how those directly apply to my life. I feel like sharing, so let this be my expression :)
1. Look where you want to go
There's this rule that some riders learn more harshly than other, that you'll ride your bike directly where you look. It's simple, but feels somehow surnatural when you're first exposed to it. The game, when you're exposed to a stressful situation, is not to get the bike to go where you want it to, or whether the tires/suspension or whatever else will work or grip or do it's thing. The game is to get your eyes to point to the safe spot ahead. If you do so, lo and behold, you'll be headed right there. The problem is that fear doesn't want you to look at the safe spot ahead. It wants you to look at that ditch, at those 18 wheelers' wheels right there, or at that fence just a few feet away. You know you're taking that turn at a speed outside your comfort zone. You know there's danger, real danger, right there. And you hopefully know that you shouldn't look there. But fear's goal is to make sure you know, that you're aware, that you're looking and staring at it.
I have looked at the grass just outside that highway's exit I was coming fast in. And I went there, elegantly bounced on the grass, gently tearing my shirt off and smoothly rubbing some skin away. I've done the same in a racing class at Calabogie, to my ridemates' amazement. I vividly remember the tall guy who was riding behind me say: "I don't understand, we were all taking that turn, everything was fine, then you looked out and ran off the track". I felt fear, I was going too fast, it wasn't my rhythm, I shouldn't have come in that way. I looked at the grass just outside the curve. Not much damage, I could fix the little things and get back on track in the afternoon. One bandage on an arm to make the nurse happy.
I somewhen got the lesson, and started forcefully controlling my eyes to look where I wanted to go and completely avoid looking anywhere nasty.
Another of my vivid souvenir is of an highway exchanger I took pretty fast on my road bike. I saw the deep deep ditch right in front of me. The road was going away on the right side, and all that was left was that ditch. I could imagine going in and smashing my body, thoroughly protected by my old jeans and black tshirt, ramming onto the other side of it at high speed. I could think of the damage to the bike, and to the damage it would do to me if I were to hit the other side of that ditch before it rammed down and bounced back to join me in a dance as sensual as a two hundred kilogram mass of hot metal smashing into a recently decelerated human body can be.
But I remembered, cleared those negative thoughts, took control of my neck and eyeballs, turning everything to the right where there was still asphalt, good traction and nobody calling ambulances. I used the controls awkwardly, doing my best to do the right thing. Or rather doing the right thing, since I was taking that turn. I had a good sweat, but kept breathing and needed no bandages. I'd seen that way and went there. And I didn't fight to get where I was looking at, the bike just took me there.
Now I see the same thing in my life. A job interview, a stressful date, a difficult meeting, anything that scares me. There are about a million things that can go wrong. Or more, if I take the time to think about it. But it can also go well. It can even go fantastically well. What I see in my head is what I'll head for. I've explored my masochistic side, thank you. I now prefer not making my life harder than it has to be.
If you're anything like me, you can take that lesson without risking your life to earn it. If you sometimes, or worst, often, see dark scenarios, concentrate on bad outcomes, or otherwise plan for your life to go bad, try this. Get your eyes off the ditch. Get that bad movie out of your head. If you're already doing it, take this as a reminder. Whenever you feel fear or unease, whenever you get stressed, take inventory of your head's content. Anything dark in there? Find that light thing, just beside it. Then lock on it, and see where it goes.
As my yoga teachers and I say to each other,