Episode 5: How to Disappear -  Mindfulness, Motorcycling and other wild ideas

My dad worked on a farm and he was a musician.  Dad’s band played on the radio.  Yeah, he was good.  Still is!  He shared with me recently about how, during the many hours in the saddle of a tractor, plowing the fields, his mind would wonder, thinking of the music that his band would be playing in their radio show.  As he drove, the songs played over and over in his mind.  

He said that sometimes he was so focused on his music, he essentially forgot about driving the tractor, ha ha that’s kinda scary, but at the end of the day, he found that the rows that his tractor carved in the field were perfectly straight.  The turns he needed to make just before reaching the ditch at the end of each row, were perfectly timed.  It was like something else took over the driving.  Does this relate to our experience riding long journeys on our motorcycles?  Ya know, I think so.  So to quote an old country song, let’s take a little trip, and never leave the farm.

When I meet someone for the first time, I usually don’t ask “what do you do?”  Now you may be a doctor, or pilot, or homemaker, and that’s all great, but instead of asking “what do you do”, I ask “what do you do for fun?” 

My hope is they will say “I ride a motorcycle”.  Boom, that’s my new best friend.  Well, you understand.  It’s instantly something we have in common to talk about.  A shared experience. The same thing probably happens with people passionate about sailing, or golf, or cooking.  “Oh you sail?  Me too! Let’s go to a coffee shop and talk!

This past weekend, my wife and I volunteered to serve coffee at an event here in Loveland, Colorado.  I met a lot of strangers.  I asked a lot of people, “what do you do for fun?”.  A wonderful young lady from Denver said “Oh I ride a motorcycle”, Boom, another new best friend.  Ha ha.  We went on to share the passion we both have for riding, and we went on to talk about how riding moves us physically, but it also transforms us mentally, at least for a little while.  With that, our conversation shifted to Mindfulness, ya know that “Breath and Know that you are breathing” thing. We’ll come back to that.

It’s interesting that in so many conversations with people I’ve just met, our love for riding drifts into why we love to ride, and what riding does for us.    

Not all conversations about motorcycling go this deep, but that’s where we’re going this week.  We are riding into a virtual world.  This world inside our helmets.  Inside our imagination. I hope you’re ready for this.  For that matter, I hope I”M ready for this!  Ha ha

In Episode 1, we traveled along Route 66 and had breakfast with a Navajo stranger.  In Episode 2, we found Forrest Gump Point, in Monument Valley.  In Episode 3, we journeyed into Rocky Mountain National Park, with a little help from James Taylor.  In Episode 4, we rode down a dusty dirt road.

This week, let’s go on another ride. but on this trip, we won't go anywhere, not really. We're going on our trip in our minds.  

Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking “well I know these recordings are made in Colorado, a lot of hippies around there,  and I know that the Peace sign is used in the Podcast logo.  What’s this “trip” you're really talking about here!”  

No haha it's not one of those trips. Instead we'll just use our imagination and see where that takes us.  Here we go:

There was a young lady who was gifted at playing the piano.  She was fantastic.  She poured her heart and soul into it.  She practiced alone for hour upon hour.

In front of her teacher, she played at her top level.  Such beautiful music.  Flawlessly.  She was completely lost in the sounds.  Fully immersed in what she was doing.

When she played in front of her family, she felt a bit distracted, wanting them to be proud of her.  She made occasional mistakes, but she worked her way through it.  In front of an audience, well, that just wasn’t going to happen.  She knew that she would be parallelized with fear, so she refused to perform.  She was convinced that her talent, her gift, would never be shared in a live performance because of her fear of failure.

Her teacher was heartbroken because she knew that not only small audiences needed to hear her perform, but so did the world.  After much thought, the teacher gave her student advice that changed the path of her life. 

The teacher told her student “Don’t play for me. Don’t play for your parents.  Don’t play for anyone.  Play and make music for yourself.  Play because your music makes you feel wonderful.  When you’re invited to play in front of others, just go out and be happy”.

Taking a chance, the teacher scheduled her student to play in a large concert hall, in front of hundreds of people.  The night of the performance, before going out on stage, the teacher told her student, “Go out there and do what makes you happy”.  

The student walked out from behind the curtain, onto the stage, and the audience erupted with applause.  That got her attention, but not in a good way.  She intended to look only at her piano, but with that sound, she caught a glimpse of the crowd instead.  She saw her teacher, smiling with encouragement.  She saw her family sitting near the front.  Then she saw the sea of faces.  

That paralyzing fear, that nightmare was about to take its grip, but she remembered what her teacher told her.  Playing made her happy and she wanted to be happy right then.

She sat down at the piano, the audience drew silent.  She paused, took a breath, and she began to play.  While she played, so beautifully, she smiled.  Then, the audience disappeared.  Moments later, her family disppeared.  Another moment later, her teacher disappeared.  As she continued to play, with her music filling the room, the piano disappeared, yet her music continued.  As her beautiful music seeped through the walls of that auditorium and drifted up, into the Heavens, she herself disappeared.

I share that story because sometimes, that is the way some of us feel when we ride.   

Sometimes we need an escape from the busyness of life, so we get on our motorcycle and go for a ride.  After some time as we cruise along through the country, if the stars align just right, the sounds of the motor disappear.  Then the sound of the wind disappears.  Pure silence.  

Then after more miles and time, our bike disappears.  Then, at just the right time, all of the burdens of the world disappear.  And at that very moment, all is right in the world.  Just as my dad and the piano student experienced, we have arrived.  Peace of Mind.  And for that, we can be grateful.

Thank you for listening.  I wish you peace.  I wish you love.