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Road Zen

The day after riding hours in the rain and cold through the mountains of Quebec, the switch flipped for me.  It happens to me on long trips, which is perhaps one of the reasons I enjoy them so much – suddenly the world just fades away and becomes almost a shadow that only extends for a few meters around me.  Time doesn’t pass so much as it flits past in a series of snapshots, very much like in the video I posted – blurs of images followed by comparatively excruciatingly slow experiences.

A bird flying three feet away me for less than a second, but I can see all the detail of its feathers and stare deep into its left eye before the moment blurs and it’s gone.  A chipmunk crossing the road in front of me and I somehow know, a hundred yards away, that it’s going to be confused – slamming to a halt as he wrenches his body left and right in front of me, torn by indecision, only to stand on his hind legs and berate me before finally running off to the right.  A dragonfly floating in the air in front of me, not moving as I speed towards it – I duck my head at the last second and the dragonfly slams into my helmet instead of my face, one final moment of buzzing wings flaring through my ears, my brain processing this sound only after the impact.  The shirtless guy leaning out the window of a minivan at 65MPH to pump his fist and yell “YEAAAAAAAAH!” as he drives past.

There’s also the strange interactions with people around me.  I often find myself bemoaning the lack of joy in the “first world,” the way Americans especially have completely lost the ability to experience wonder at the world around them once they reach adulthood (a symptom of the “rat race” and the core reason I’ve taken so much time off – I was trapped myself).  I see this showcased with Canadians around me as well, like the border guard who didn’t understand why I wouldn’t “just fly to Alaska” or the child who gets all excited about my scooter and points it out only to be told “that’s nice” by her mother.  Unsurprisingly it’s the cities where this seems to pop up far more than in the country, but it’s still pervasive…  if it’s not on a big movie screen or a TV it’s not entertainment.  We are so jaded.

If there’s one thing I could change in the world, I think this would be it – bring back joy and wonder to us “civilized” folks.  That’s partially what I hope to do by my blog, photos, and videos, give people inspiration to see the wonder in the world.

If you’re reading this, just think about it for a minute.  How many times in the last day have you seen something that should have made you stop and absorb the moment, but instead you shrugged it off?  Something as simple as a leaf falling from a tree in front of you or a child yelling on the train because it’s a new experience for them.  You can’t just live your life, you have to experience it.  Find and treasure those moments of joy.

If this attitude allows me to not only survive but thrive on and enjoy the experience of riding a scooter for 10+ hours a day across thousands of miles (which, let’s be honest, is misery), think about how it might help you get through a day at the office!


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