Saturday, December 16, 2006

Midwest Scooter Enthusiast

Sit down and shut up

How many times have you heard that line growing up? It seems as children we struggle with learning to hold our focus. Its taking too long. Its not what we want. Its too hot or too cold. Its boring.

We wrestle against being still. Against observing and filtering out anything that doesn't pertain to the object of importance. Sometimes we try to see too far ahead and miss the obvious right before us. We want to be done with it. We want the answer now so that we can move on because being still for too long makes us itch, makes us nervous.

So we get to a point in our lives when we choose to ride. The reasons are as individualistic as we are, but the point is we want something in our lives to make us breathe deeper, to accelerate our pulse in the peaked moments of the riding experience.

So how do we do that? We start our bikes, sit down, and for the most part, shut up. If our parents could see us now.

The subject of this blog came about sometime around fifteen years ago. My closest riding buddy Whitey and I were stopped at the bridge of a river which was halfway between Brookfield and Rochester Wisconsin. The area is mostly swamp with a short line of river homes on the north side of the bridge. At night the place is loud with natural nightlife. The sky is big and colored that shade of blueish black that only shows up away from light pollution. Stars are so bright there the crystaline glimmer from above bathes the rushes in a soft glow.

Somehow we got on the subject of what you think about on a ride. There are phases, it seems, that the mind goes through as it settles into a state of contentment, when the mind is free to wander. Just as the rider loosens up going from getting to where one wants to be to being there. You ride until you achieve a stillness of thought that somehow leads to a heightened awareness. It was Whitey who said it; "There is a kind of stillness when you ride that's like nothing else." Back then if you drove your car the radio was blaring. People were talking to you. You were sucking gas station coffee out of a styrofoam cup with one hand and a Camel or Winston was in the other. You weren't just driving, you were busy.

A kind of stillness when you ride.

I know there's a thing called Bluetooth. I'm not ready for Bluetooth. I'm thinkin' more on the line of starting to wear earplugs under my helmet. (Yeah, Whitey, I wear a helmet nowadays. A full face and I wear it all the time too)

Parents work hard to teach their children what's right and what's best. How to learn. How to pay attention. But when nerves get stretched too thin those five powerful words at the top of this blog could send us reeling.

Nature has a way of getting our attention and teaching us the things we need to know in spite of ourselves. How often have we brought the very lessons we fought learning back home, upon us. To sit down, and to shut the heck up.

...And let that scooter be a lesson to you!



Steve Williams said...


This is an excellent post and touches on what we try and teach children and can forget as adults if we ever learned it at all.

Being still is a great place to be but so hard to get to. I find it possible on the Vespa.

My post last night on Scooter in the Sticks touches on some of the stuff that goes through my head while riding. This writing of yours really illuminates the foundation underneath it all. I'm going to edit my blog post to reference yours. I think people really need to read this!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

American Scooterist Blog said...

I can't thank you enough for your generous words, Steve. It means a lot coming from you because you know how we pour over our drafts.

I swear, I could scour a potential piece of material, post it, and still find things that could be written better.

You inspire me to dig deeper, to question the things I think I know, and do it in the context of the scooterist's lifestyle. But not too deeply for fear that I lose sight of where I might be taking myself. TO find that same stillness you wrote about in your blog. Seeing your reply brings the question of whether I relayed my thoughts clearly enough to an answer.

Thanks Steve. Very much.


Combatscoot said...

Wow. Good writing. I like stuff that makes me think.