Before I start writing, I want to make it clear that I am only 5 chapters in to the book I am about to be commenting on, though I am in love with it already.
I recently started reading, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, after hearing some good things about it. I was a little hesitant at first, mostly because the title led me to believe I needed to have some sort of knowledge of motorcycles or maybe even own one to understand it.
This was dismissed immediately.
The book centers around the idea of motorcycle maintenance, using the ideas associated with it as metaphors for life philosophies that the author, Robert M. Pirsig, has picked up over the years.
Early on in the book he describes the feeling of riding a “cycle,” as he often refers to it, as a means to get to a destination as opposed to a plane or a car. The cycle allows you to be in the scene. You get to conquer the space in between where you are and where you’re going. “The concrete is just inches below your boots,” Pirsig says. He goes on to mention how a car has a compartment, separating you from the space around you on your journey.
The following is an excerpt from the book that struck a chord with me:
“To arrive in the Rock Mountains by plane would be to see them in one kind of context, as pretty scenery. But to arrive after days of hard travel across the prairies would be to see them in another way, as a goal, as a promised land.”
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a “It’s about the journey not the destination” line, but for some reason, this quote in particular got me thinking about more than that; more than the journeys you take in life.
I want to live my whole life outside of the box. I want to have the freedom to learn and explore, even if it’s not a physical journey. I know I’m not very exciting; I don’t take crazy trips; I don’t jump off of cliffs or out of planes. I know that’s not a bad thing, I enjoy living a simple existence with room to expand at my leisure, however, I do want to make sure I’m putting my life experiences in a context that allows me to truly understanding the things I’m going through.
With all that being said, I do want to take more trips to places I’ve said I want to visit. As Pirsig says, having a good time means concentrating more on “good” and less on “time.” To me, that means not worrying about how far it is to your destination is and how long it will take to get there, just that you got up and went.
Every couple of chapters, or when I come across something I find interesting, I am going to try and do a write up to make sure I really understand what I’m reading. Wish I had this kind of focus on school work. I’d have a PhD in a couple of years if I did.
On top of all this, now I really want a motorcycle. Maybe one day.