The Second Et of Zen Bikerism: You Control the Bike

The lessons taught by the motorcycle are many; Ten of these shall be known as “Ets” and shall be considered fundamental to the practice of being a Zen Biker. All of them are of equal importance and form a synthesis, yet an order presents itself. This, then, is the Second Et.


I can already hear some wise guy saying, “What wisdom, O Great Guru! Perhaps next you will tell us that a motorcycle has wheels!” But stop and think for a moment: think of where the emphasis goes in that sentence.

Many people fear the motorcycle. They fear, because they let the bike control them; the machine must be respected, for it has inherent dangers, but it must never be feared, because fear is control.

You control the bike. This is all you, baby. In the First Et we learned that a Biker must not be cocky about their abilities, but still must be confident. You–you, control the bike. To ride, one must have unshakable faith in that assertion.

And think for a moment, of how the bike is controlled.

The tiniest pressure of one hand, or one foot, the slightest lean, and a quarter-ton bomb obeys on the instant. To wrench the handlebars around, snap the throttle, stomp on the brake, these are the ingredients of suicide on a motorcycle. Even the biggest, baddest, grizzly beariest Biker must have the touch of an angel to keep his bike (and his skeleton) moving and in one piece.

So too, in life.

You control your life. Many people fear life, because they let life control them; life must be respected, for it has inherent dangers, but it must never be feared, for fear is control.

The same confidence which lets you pilot a motorcycle, will enable you to pilot your life. Just the touch of an angel…a tiny pressure in one direction or another and you navigate. To wrench your life around, is a recipe for catastrophe and frustration.

Not to say that there won’t be times when the bike or your life won’t require a little manhandling. Shit happens. Just know when a judicious application of manhandling is required.

But always, always remember, you control the bike.

Unless you’re one of those people who can disperse clouds by pointing at them, there won’t be much you can do about weather conditions. Unless you are in a position to bribe the hell out of the DPW, there won’t be much you can do about road conditions.

But there is one thing that you do have control over, and that is the bike.

You may follow someone’s lead, follow someone’s directions, but you control the bike. To control the bike is to accept responsibility for the bike.

And if you lead someone, or give them directions, you control your bike. You have a responsibility to provide clear signals and clear directions. You are not riding the bike behind you, and you should not feel as though you are. We all control our own.

There will be thunderstorms. There will be potholes. There will be assholes.

To concentrate on these things is a waste of time and energy; you don’t control them. You control the Bike.

That is the Truth, and the truth rides a motorcycle.


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