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 Fourth Et.
YOUR EGO IS LESS IMPORTANT THAN YOUR LIFE.
Given the “Zen” portion of “Zen Bikerism,” you’re probably thinking that this is going to be a long-winded discourse on the necessity of annihilating your ego and becoming completely selfless You are wrong. Not quite as wrong as I was that one time I thought the stripper really liked me, but wrong nonetheless.
However, you must be willing to destroy your ego, because otherwise you will never be able to grow.
See, the ego serves a purpose: it is the part of you that interacts with the rest of the world, it’s the thing that helps you relate, gives you a sense of worth. That’s not a bad thing. That’s healthy.
And every time you learn something new, change your outlook, that ego dies, to be replaced by a new one which includes the new outlook. If you are so attached to your current outlook that you will not and can not tear it down and build something new, you are like a corpse, unable to regenerate its tissues, grow or change.
Consider people who develop a self-image and drive themselves to live up (or down) to it, turning down a glass of water when their kidneys are shutting down from dehydration because they just can’t be seen drinking anything but hard liquor, or treating the waitress like a dishrag to prove their superiority as a life-form, or bottling up all kinds of hurt because even one single tear would cause their whole psyche to crack open and collapse. That is a bad thing. That’s not healthy.
That’s what happens when you forget that your ego is a part of you, not all of you.
It’s not the most important part, either.
Imagine for a moment that you’re riding along, turn a corner and hit a patch of torn-up, muddy road at full speed, at an angle.
You got two options.
You can maintain your full upright posture, gun the motor, and try to power through while maintaining your image.
If you have elevated your ego to the pinnacle of your existence and worship it above all else, then that’s the choice you make, and you go down in a tangled heap of metal and previously internal organs.
The other option is to shimmy and shake, waving your feet around like a two dollar whore with your face screwed up and your tongue hanging out because you’re too busy staying upright to worry about details like dignity. You’re going to look damned silly
But you’re going to live, with you and your bike intact to continue your ride. That is the important thing.
And whatever your opinions on afterlives or reincarnation, I think we can agree that being dead takes at least a little bit more time than looking silly. There’s no need to rush headlong into it; the speed limit is fast enough, after all.
Even your mistakes make you a perfect you, if you learn from them. Sometimes they help others become better, which is just as valuable. What the hell more do you want?
A healthy, strong ego is secure, one that doesn’t need to devour everything in its path to remind itself of its own existence, as a fragile ego does. Everyone is stupid about something at least once a day. That doesn’t make anyone less of a person. Learn to laugh at yourself; respect yourself, yes, but never take yourself so seriously that a little dumbassery destroys you.
Because that won’t just make you look silly…but downright stupid.
That is the Truth. And the Truth rides a motorcycle.