There is this book, "Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance." I have a copy, but I've never read it. Never even cracked the spine.
The subtitle says it is "An Inquiry into Values". But what does that mean. Finding out what you value? Why you value it? What "value" even means? Who has time for that? Well, the author, obviously, but that's not me. You can't build a philosophy by writing about.
I don't get on my motorcycle to inquire after anything. I am not out there to ponder my life, I am there to be as far away from it as I can. I don't want to find myself, I want to lose myself.
The Man says that the odds of dying on a motorcycle are about twelve times higher than in a car. I like to think that's the figure for mere mortals and I am doing my best to get that number to be much, much higher. Partly it's for the saying that "only when close to death do you know what it means to truly be alive", but mostly it's knowing that if I made one false move I could end it all. Or, just the same, if I chose to make one very deliberate move, it could end me.
I wear a helmet, but not because I think it would help. It's just what you do, you know, it's just the thing, man. I know that with the kind of riotous shit I pull, all a helmet means is the coroner will have a convenient way of bringing my head back to the morgue.
I mean, I'm not courting death or anything. Yeah, I have been known to drunk-text him from time to time, but it's never planned, it just happens. You can buy him a drink, but don't bring him back to your apartment.
It's just that I stopped trying to find sense in life a long time ago. Nothing makes sense in life, so what's the point in looking? Religion is bullshit and Atheists are idiots. Everyone claims to know what they want, where to get it, how to share it, but they really have no idea.
I gave up trying to make life make sense a long time ago and nothing changed. There was no big epiphany, no great understanding; I just woke up one day, said "fuck it", and went to work. You make your own sense, I decided, life won't do it for you.
I choose to create my version of sense out there, on the road. Out there, I only have to worry about the next stretch of highway and my purpose is simply to move on.
My friend Edie used to get high behind the shop he worked at. He'd do smack but wouldn't touch alcohol because he was certain that you're OK if you only do one poison in a lifetime. I'd go back there with him and he liked to talk about this thing called "Zen" and about how there was nothing but here and now. "The future is never here, but it's always here, you get me?" he'd say, trying to sound like one of those goddamned Ashram fucks.
Edie didn't own a bike, he didn't know shit about "here and now". The only way to be "in the now" is to forget everything else. And there is only one way to do that, on two wheels.
The faster I go, the clearer I get. Every thousand RPM is another layer of shit falling away from my eyes. The amount of life I have to worry about drops with every upward nudge of the clocks.
And finally everything is coming so fast that there is no difference between future and present. No plan, no anticipation, no purpose, no future, just now. Now. NOW. Relentless NOW.
People think "empty" means missing something. I think it means having nothing. Having nothing, possessing it, just like your own private soul.
("Motorcycle Emptiness" is also the title of a song by Manic Street Preachers.)