In the Spring of 2012 I had a moment of mid-life crisis and decided that I would buy a motorcycle. I only had one problem. I had NEVER ridden a motorcycle. Well, not unless you count a few times when, as a child, my uncle rode me to Baltimore Orioles games at the old Memorial Stadium.
So my mid-life crisis self decided it would be a good idea to take a motorcycle course. Some friends pointed me to Harley Davidson which offers a great course through their stores.
In a matter of four days I went from being completely ignorant into a fully licensed driver. I learned many things in this course that have no doubt saved my life on more than one occasion but one of the greatest lessons I learned was this: Look past the obstacles.
One of the things about riding a motorcycle is that you WILL ride into whatever you focus on so you have to have a longer view of the road in order to avoid the obstacles that are sure to appear in your path. At the same time, you cannot focus on the obstacle or else you are sure to ride directly into them.
While driving a car we can get away with some minor distractions whereas on a bike, there is no room for error. If your car runs over roadkill you may just get a laugh out of it. If a bike hits that same roadkill, the rider may become roadkill. In a car you can hit a piece of debris and feel it rumble underneath your feet only to reappear as a problem for the traffic following your path. On a bike that same piece of debris can send you to the hospital.
Wanna ride yet?
Time and time again our instructors had to teach us to look much farther ahead than we were accustomed. Initially I thought this was silly. I thought that there surely couldn’t be that much difference between driving and riding. Boy was I wrong.
After a day of classroom work we were taken out to a large parking lot behind a gigantic abandoned building where we would learn how to actually ride a motorcycle. After a few hours of basic instruction and light maneuvering we were placed on an oval track to practice turning. One of the sides of the track was lined with a 10-foot fence. Again the instructors drilled into our heads these two lessons: 1. Look far ahead and 2. Do not focus on any one object.
As the first group began their ride I was with the second group watching from the side. One of the riders did not get the concept of looking ahead and avoiding focusing on obstacles. Essentially what happened is that he turned the 3rd corner and began to stare at the fence that ran alongside the parking lot. We all knew what was to come. SLAM! CRASH! BOOM!
This guy crashed his bike into the fence and he had his hand still on the throttle. With his helmet turned to the left and his handlebars on the ground, his rear wheel was behind him somewhere near his neck. The instructors yelled for everyone to shut off their motorcycles (we were warned that this may happen). As the young man was debriefed he told the instructor that he became focused on the fence in front of him and while he knew he needed to turn, he simply couldn’t.
I wish I could tell you that the story ends here but it doesn’t. After our group took an uneventful turn on the track the first group went back out. Do you want to guess what happened? Sure enough, coming around the third turn we all watched this guy fly right back into the same area of the fence with the same result. Like a bug to a windshield he met the fence with force. He couldn’t shake it. The fence had become his focus.
In your life you have obstacles. You may not have enough money. You may not have enough time. You may not think that you are educated enough. Your obstacles may seem to hold you back but the reality is that you cannot focus on your obstacles. If you are to surpass your obstacles you must look past your obstacles. Sure, you may not be able to get “there” the way someone else got “there” but if you spend less time looking at