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With the first night behind me, a major milestone has been conquered. Filled with confidence and assurance I leaped out of bed ready for adventure. Today, I thought to myself, I will plan it all and work all the details out, no surprises like yesterday.
I started by following my planned daily agenda: 3o minute walk, light breakfast, short meditation. Then, went to the bike. I already cleaned it up last night, and it was time to give the shining beauty its morning pampering: check the tire air pressure, oil level, brakes. Then, with careful attention I put the bags on the passenger seat and luggage rack, using a masterpiece of colorful bungee cords. Rode to a local Auto Zone and got some ratchet straps, and viola! The luggage stopped moving around and was solid as a rock. “Quality”, I flattered myself, “this is exactly what Robert Pirsig talked about in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. You put your mind to it, take your time, focus, and get a job well done”.
Proud of my conscientiousness I rode to my first agenda item: the Harley Davidson plant in York and from there on to the next item: route 425 – recommended by one of the motorcycle sites as a nice twisty back road. I found it and started riding, and then a heavy feeling fell on me like a 5 ton steel blanket. Something was wrong. But what was it? I continued riding around and every now and then stopped to take some pictures. But maneuvering the bike to stop and park each time as difficult with the heavy bags in the back. I tried to ignore the feeling but like a persistent itch it would not go away.
And then it daunted on me: Too much planning resulted in a feeling of “are we having fun yet?”. Instead of experiencing the road and the scenery I felt like I am trying to match the way I envisioned it when I planned it. I also kept thinking about good spots to take pictures and videos. Too much past, too much future, too little present. I went about the day like an actor following a script, instead of writing my very own script for the Ride.
I took a turn to a random street and started riding randomly with no destination and no plans. Then, interesting things started happening. All of a sudden details started surfacing from the scenery. Fields, churches, schools, farms. At some point I was following an Amish buggy, and waving back to the kids in its back, feeling like Michael J. Fox in “Back to The Future”, riding a futuristic form of transportation in the farms of the 19th century. It looks like I earned the important insight of the day “make detailed plans, but when you go on the road throw the plans out”. My humble interpretation to the ancient wisdom of the Tao Te Ching and the Bhagavad Gita, telling us to “focus on the action and not on its fruit”. You plan for the fruit, but when you start taking action you just forget about them.
Content with my insights for the day, I put the helmet-mounted camera on, and headed south towards Maryland. No more stopping for pictures. And when traffic was heavy I just took the next exit and let it take me to new places. After a few hours of riding I found myself in a small town in Maryland. I pulled into a shopping center and looked for a place to spend the night.
The Buddha said that the source of all human suffering is attachment. We desire permanence, not willing to accept that things fluctuate and go through cycles, never staying the way they are. Starting tomorrow I’m embracing uncertainty as an additional means of building inner strength: no more careful planning. There will be thunderstorms, rain, heat, and winds. Inner strength is built when you go on the road and put yourself out there, exposed to challenges. In turn, each challenge is a little victory leading you one step closer to a triumphant ride through your life.
Here’s the video of the day. Ride safe!