I read this book that my brother gave me for Christmas one year. The book was called “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig. It is an interesting book. It has two storylines that are interconnected. One storyline is about a father and son who are touring across the United States on a motorcycle. The other storyline details a philosophical perspective on the word “quality” and the difficulty with defining it. Quality is referred to in the book as shapeless, formless and indescribable. Both of the storylines relate back to the fundamentals of maintaining a motorcycle.
One night, I was reading a chapter about the father and son’s arrival to Oregon. The majority of their trip was through small communities in the Central U.S. where the pace of life is noticeably slow. Upon their arrival to Oregon, the father began to feel less connected with the surroundings. He didn’t understand why. He noticed that traffic on the highway was traveling at a steady maximum speed. A car tailgated him and wouldn’t pass. The drivers passing by seemed more concerned about driving through where they were, to get to where they wanted to be. The father came to a dramatic realization and he said “I know what it is! We’ve arrived at the West Coast! We are all strangers again!”
I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I was reading this. This chapter made me think about my own experiences of driving in the city of Vancouver. About seven years ago, I moved from a city with sixty thousand people to Vancouver, which has about six hundred thousand people.
So I still tended to drive slower than the average Vancouverite and had numerous people tailgating me over the years. It baffles me when some drivers get so angry when they are driving. There is the big rush to get some where in a big hurry. What really makes me laugh is that I end up only a few cars behind these drivers at the next traffic light.
I know that the pace of traffic in the city is always going to be faster than a rural community. If traffic doesnt keep moving in the city, it would mean a lot of long waits during rush hour. However, I dont think it means that traffic has to move at speeds that can cause harm to others. I often wonder if those who are always in a rush use the same approach in other aspects of their life. What happens when they reach their destination? Are they always rushing off to something else? Do they have a true vision as to where they are headed in the long term?
From the perspective of driving, there comes a point when the urgency to get to the destination becomes the primary focus. The result is a lack of focus on the things that are needed to be done in the present to ensure that the final destination is reached. This lack of focus could result in something unanticipated such as car accident. The same can be applied to life.
For example, work can consume us to the point where our health can be seriously affected. Our intentions may be good and we want to work hard to be able to buy a house, go on vacation or retire early. Unfortunately, the lack of focus on our health can ultimately result in a longer timeframe to achieve these goals.
I have some questions to complete based on what you have read in this article to start getting the thing between your ears working for you. I encourage you to open a blank email, word processing document or get out an old fashion piece of paper and spend some time on your own personal development.
Now lets strengthen that thing between your ears.
1. If you were to relate the following statement to your own personal development, what thoughts come to mind?
The drivers passing by seemed more concerned about driving through where they were, to get to where they wanted to be.
2. If you were driving down a road and passed by what you want out of life, what would you see?
3. What is the final destination you are heading to on your drive?
4. What five things do you need to continually do to reach your destination?