An intensive care unit (ICU) is a great place to think – there is so much time on your hands at all hours of the day and night, and you get to meet all these really nice people. The problem is you really can’t focus on much, the shadows dance against the wall and change. I blame it on the Dilaudid, or Plato, or life itself. Much of my waking hours early on were filled with a kaleidoscope of images from the past, in some cases the distant past: people, places, and bikes for the most part, and questions.
“We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone. ”
–Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
Establish, project, extrapolate. Visual clues, internal clock, any sensory input repeated over and over again; aka, seat time. There is a sense of timing, a rhythm, that works, and many others that do not. Once you throw traffic in there, you must adapt. So, you change the model to your liking and do the same thing; establish, project, extrapolate. And it all happens in real time, at speed, every lap. That is road racing from a neuroscientist’s point of view, and it is also your daily commute.
Humankind has been preoccupied with fire and metal throughout recorded history. The Greeks had Hephaestus; the Norse – for simplicity’s sake – had Logi, though their table of organization for all things fire and metal related is about as cumbersome as General Motors before their reorganization, and the Romans? The Romans had Vulcan, often depicted with a large hammer, their god of fire and metalworking, the master of the forge.
I see Comrade Burns has taken another page from John’s Little Red Book to hold forth yet again on his notion of making the United States a communal roadside bangles and holistic herbal healing stand. From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs or something. In the last episode, we discovered the reason kids aren’t buying bikes is because we don’t live in a worker’s paradise. Well I’d like to take a moment and interrupt John’s embryonic five-year plan to simply say, “Piffle.”
I’m a simple guy. The thought of a good burger and a beer on a veranda somewhere magical appeals to me; perfect roads, inspiring views, some sort of isolated Shangri-La, it’s not a lot to ask. Well, okay, maybe it’s a lot to ask, but it is nice to imagine. A guy can dream, and then the strangest things happen, only in California.
“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
Flying into central Ohio in the middle of winter is less than inspiring, unless you happen to live there I suppose. I thought about that on my approach to Columbus International through a typical thick gray overcast that gave way to a marginally more translucent view of gray fields, gray highways, and gray buildings; the kind of views that could only inspire Russian novelists and other upbeat types.
If you stick around long enough it is hard not to be increasingly reminded of one’s own obsolescence. I have stickers on a clipboard I carry to riders meetings at the track that are older than a good many of the racers there. I will admit a preference for those things that demonstrably work rather than those things that are demonstrably new – I was late to the dawn of the replaceable knee puck era in the early ‘80s, I slept through the neon ‘90s never fully appreciating all the pink wheels and leathers, and the Y2K speed hump leathers craze left me flat. But the last thing I was expecting late last year was to be laid bare by an Art Linkletter quote proffered by none other than MO’s esteemed moto-Jarhead, Gabe.
Our first Christmas together she gave me a gift; it was a two-drawer toolbox she had found on sale somewhere. As toolboxes go, it wasn’t anything special, it wasn’t some budget-busting Snap-On deal with drawers mounted on precision bearings crafted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it was just a simple stamped metal no-name box with a small “When the Green Flag Drops, the Bullshit Stops” sticker on it that made me chuckle. Up until then her biggest concern had been whether to major in dance or in history. What did she know about toolboxes or green flags?