Friday morning, I wake up in Roanoke, NC. In the breakfast room the TV is open and showing Iranian President Ahmadinejad speaking at the UN General Assembly. He claims that the 9/11 attacks were a US conspiracy. I chat with a few bikers from Kentucky that I met last night and in the meantime think about the UN Speech. In a few weeks I will be meeting with Dr. Phil Zimbardo who conducted the famous Stanford Prison Experiment. He probably understands the mechanisms that drive evil behavior more than anyone else on the planet, and I can’t wait to ask him what he thinks about that speech.
Today I will be riding the Blue Ridge Parkway. A scenic gem and a must-ride for someone on a cross country trip. Riding towards these beautiful mountains yesterday was an elevating experience. The mountains revealed themselves gradually behind curves. Majestic, epic mountains. It felt like all cars on the road are going as a single group together towards them. As the hours went by the motorcycle vanished underneath me and I just felt like I was gliding above the road with arms stretched forward (I’ve always wondered why Superman does that when he flies).
When I get to the Parkway he morning chill is still in the air, and the road is much different what I had imagined: narrow and twisty, and hard to maneuver with all the stuff in the back. After 30 minutes of experimenting with body language in the turns, the uniqueness of this magical place fully unfolds. What first looked like autumn leaves flying in the wind turns out to be butterflies. The air is filled with them. A rain of butterflies. It feels like being 0n the Planet Pandora from the movie Avatar, or riding some sort of flying vessel in a Star Wars movie. The surrounding mountains are primal, the ancient landscape of creation, and the vegetation and topography keep changing and surprises you with new colors, textures, and scents.
When I stop in one of the overlooks I notice a guy sitting in a car. We are the only ones there, and I ask him if he minds taking my picture. He is a pastor in a local church and often comes to this spot to meditate and pray. He says that he was born in the mountains and wants his ashes to be spread in the mountain wind when he passes. We talk about the spirituality of the place where we stand, and when we part ways it feels like we’ve known each other for years.
Problems and conflicts dwarf in the shadow of these majestic mountains. This is a place of peace. Suddenly, a picture surfaces in my mind. I imagine Ahmadinejad and Obama riding the Parkway together. For some reason I see Ahmadinigad on a Trike, just to play it safe (a cool custom kit, no doubt) and Omaba on touring machine – something like a Harley Road Glide, with classic rock music pumping in full volume. They both wear short black helmets and sunglasses, and wear a manly serious expression on as the wind runs through their faces.
After riding for a few hours straight they pull over at Bluffs Restaurant, and get off their bikes exhausted but all wired up. They take a drink of water and Ahmadinejad says: “you know, I don’t even remember what I was upset about, honey. I think that I only needed a hug”. And they go inside and devour cheeseburgers with hot salty fries. I truly think that if we force world leaders to ride together on weekends we will world peace in a matter of weeks. Perhaps the UN should come up with such a provision.