“I just wanna slow down” – A.D.D. from “Accepted”
At some point in my life I turned everything into a race. Even during my rides (which are meant to be a chill experience) I find myself racing the speedometer, racing the watch, fighting a deadline. I need to stop. I need to move slow. I need to experience the moment.
I will be making a concerted effort to live in the moment and forget about deadlines during this ride. It will be tough, especially when some people will be expecting me at certain times along the way, but I will take the moments I can and breathe in life. If I end up days behind my current route I will be okay, that simply means I found something that my mind or body desired more than reaching the next checkpoint.
Life is a journey, not a destination. This ride is my journey. Santa Monica may be the end of this particular path but it isn’t a destination in the final sense. In the same way this adventure doesn’t have a beginning, it also doesn’t have a end. So, I’m going to get distracted and enjoy the moment. The point of a Rite of Passage is more than to accomplish a goal, it is also an experience and I plan on experiencing every moment I can.
“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” – Robert Heinlein “Moon is a Harsh Mistress”
This idea flows through my entire life, there are many ways to say it but I like the way Heinlein puts it best. It doesn’t limit civil disobedience to laws, but instead brings up any rule that is imposed on us from an outside source that we find “obnoxious”. Most importantly though, it mentions the ever important responsibility aspect as a moral attribute instead of something that is purely consequential.
On my bike ride I know I will break many laws, particularly laws that would deem it “illegal” to sleep on the side of the road. The idea that a person cannot peacefully sleep somewhere in a way that does not harm (or even remotely disturb) another person should be disgusting to most good people. There may also be some other social norms that I will break but I don’t know what adventures the road may put in front of me but I am going at it with some wise advice that my best friend gave me about Burning Man: don’t go in with expectations but instead with an openness to the possibilities with hope and dreams in your heart.
“Sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whiskey, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested” – Hunter S. Thompson
When I first read this quote there was only one line that didn’t really appeal to me… “falling in love”, but now that appeals to me the most. It doesn’t necessarily mean that this ride is about finding a lady to spend my life with but it does mean opening my heart up to the possibility.
I seek to fall in love with a place or a person. It may not mean forever, but for the moment of love I will embrace it. I will explore the emotional side of myself where I live in the moment and seek stories over security. It truly is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.
“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” – Albert Camus
The sad truth is that we are only as free as we are willing to be and most people actually do not want freedom. They say they do, but they don’t. What they want is to be taken care of and have the tough decisions made for them. They don’t want the adventure, but they want to watch it on tv and talk about it as if they were a part of it.
The desire to live a secure and relatively boring existence is not a bad thing. Everyone has their own preferences and adversity to risk, the problem develops when a desire to live a secure existence means you want everyone else to conform to that way of life. Sometimes this takes the form of the use of government but just as often non-state societal pressures are placed on people to fall in line. Stigmas are developed about people who do certain things that strip them of their individuality and responsibility. Instead of getting to know people most would rather resort to stereotypes that fit within their vision of the world.
So, some of us must live free even if it is an act of rebellion (and maybe partially BECAUSE it is an act of rebellion). This means more than just breaking bad laws when the opportunity and a cost/benefit analysis makes it worth it for you. This also means openly and actively rejecting societal norms that unnecessarily restrict your freedom. Liberty isn’t pretty and rebellion isn’t clean but it is necessary for some of us to reach our full potential and the romantic in me believes that rebels also help the passive members of society get closer to their potential.
If someone looks back on my life I hope they see someone who stood on his own, did what was right, and decided to live instead of just exist, even if that makes me an enemy of the state or the oppressive norms and mores put in place by those who would simply search for easy survival.
Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. – Plato
I have found that I developed a habit that I am not too proud of. When I am tired, hungry, or generally in a foul mood I find myself making negative assumptions about the people around me particularly those that are “in my way”.
Maybe it’s the two people who are walking and somehow taking up the whole sidewalk, or perhaps the biker that is riding crazy slow, or maybe the guy who stops abruptly while walking. Regardless of who it is I find myself judging and making assumptions.
In reality I truly believe people are good and doing the best they can. Instead of judging I am making a conscious effort to assume the best. The truth is that I don’t know what anyone is really facing. The inconvenience they cause me may be just unintentional fallout from a great tragedy in their life.
Hopefully as I intentionally shift my attitude from one of annoyance to one of understanding it will start to come naturally.
*This is the first of a series of quotes that I am going to try and use to keep me focused on my ride. I will probably write them in a journal or something that I travel with*