Sunday, January 22, 2012

Repetition and newness

Today I made a return to those epic rides of old. I set my face to the light and filled my nostrils with the odour of sun-bleached wheat. I roamed without reason on the black line, with no map and no expectations.

I began by passing through places I've seen so often, and yet never tire of. Have you ever noticed that repetition can be a form of utter boredom, or of connection and fulfillment.

I rode north out of Bendigo and then east. The cow which had escaped from its paddock waited by the roadside for my approach. As I emergency-braked I stared into its eyes and watched it decide whether to run out and kill me. But it didn't, and I found the local farmhouse where it belonged.

At Rushworth I stopped and window-shopped.

By now it was quite hot, so I was happy to find a lake and sit for a moment.

I made 500km today and it was a joy. At times I thought of Kierkegaard, of the experience of having rejected what he called "the ethical life" - the second of three levels of living - such that I seem to live the lowest and highest simultaneously: the "aesthetic stage" (a dissipated stage) and what he calls the "religious stage" but which I would call the stage of unconditional choosing of oneself and one's life (an existential stage). Motorcycling contains this paradox: the long dissipation of time, time which could be spent cultivating my talents, or time which could be spent not putting my body and faculties at risk of damage and loss due to an accident. And yet this way of living - a day spent in motion to no particular place - and a day that is so often a repetition despite the newness of each ride, is the practice of really living life as it is. It's a matter of choosing one's life, which promises both nothing beyond itself and no great rational purpose, a life whose meaning seems to reside simply in the existence of itself (and of others and the world, which have the same nothing-else-ness as one's own life). I pity those who pity me for lacking something absolute to assure me and give me guidance - what a distraction from the real thing! And in the same way it's wonderful to make 500km with no map on hand. These longer rides draw me because they invite a state of becoming lost in the motion - lost to concerns for distance and destination - and of savouring the present moment and choosing it. Then, at the end of each ride - like the end of life - I take these meaningless wonderful concatenations and construct a narrative out of them, and they become that meaning. And more.

As I made for home through dusk and then dark, this song sat on repeat in my mind.

1 comment:

  1. very enjoyable reading Matt. Yes i pity those who pity you also, for what they see as lacking absoluteness to assure you and give you guidence. Life in itself is a trip without maps, roads with forks in them, and not forgetting so called "wrong turns". Thats what makes life exciting and free. Enjoy son, its your right !