(Continued from page 11) Now and ZenHarley. A lot of what I do there can be infused with Zen spirit - flats fishing (the motion of the cast much like the
motion with a katana), scuba diving (follow your breath, immerse yourself in your world) and, of course, motorcycling. On a ride sixty miles up to Marathon, across keys and the bridges which allow you to ride over the ocean, I reflected that Robert Pirsig got it right in
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:
You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you're always in a compartment, and because you are used to it you don't realize that through the car window everything you see is just more TV. You're a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle, that frame is gone. You are completely in contact with it all. You're in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it's right there, so blurred you can't focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.
But what about Harleys, the biker image of the Harley rider as a "Born to be Wild" outlaw, a lone wolf? What about forty years of biker movies? Remember that that image is, well, an image. As humorist Dave Barry said: "Harley riders are "rebels, lone wolves, guys who Do It Their Way, guys who do not follow the crowd. You can tell because they are
wearing the same jeans, jackets, boots, bandannas, sunglasses, belt buckles, tattoos and (presumably) underwear worn by roughly 28 million other lone wolf Harley guys."
Dr. Rosenblum sees the Harley as art: "We live in a world of virtual experience. Not a lot is genuine anymore. The Harley Davidson is one of those objects that has stood the test of time. That is why it remains one of the most sought after symbols in the world. It represents, within the collective unconscious, something genuine, something emotional, something powerful. It is the last horse on the frontier."
Or as he writes in his poetry:
Handling a Harley around a corner
When blacktop turns to gravel
A foot down won't save it
Gives an awful strength to the Heart
And your hands hang on
To mindful courage
All the time with graceful force
And power rises from history
That will not be toppled
By fashionable modern laws
The Harley transcends the function of the motorcycle and, instead, captures the essence of the
motorcycle. A Zippo is more than it's function as a lighter; a Rolex is more than it's function as a timepiece; a Porsche is more than it's function as a sports car; and a Harley is more than a mere motorcycle.
As Dr. Rosenblum points out, the Harley is like the cowboy's horse - sometimes reliable, sometimes cranky - but the Harley, unlike the Japanese motorcycle and like a horse, has a life and personality of it's own,
completely independent of it's owner.
Zen is sometimes found in the aesthetic expression we associate with Japan - spare and dignified beauty of plants, rocks, robes, furniture and seated meditation. Zen is sometimes found in a noisy American
motorcycle, blunt and simple, roaring down the road.
Sometimes you practice Cha-Do, the Way of Tea - picking and arranging seasonal flowers, making a charcoal fire to boil water, whisking green tea in a bowl, offering the tea to a guest. Sometimes you roar down the road with the
concrete whizzing by five inches from your foot. In both, fully mindful of body and mind. Same thing.