Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

 

This book possibly changed my life.

This book possibly changed my life.

Started writing on this post a day after my birthday, that was over a month and a half ago.

The difficult part about writing this post is that it involved a deep set of reflections that are still ever changing, but heck, I’ll try to put it down in words my thoughts so far.

Meta-thinking.

Thinking about thinking.

Self-reflection.

You only start to realize how important it is after you get stuck long enough on something, then you realize it might not be the situation that needs to be changed but the way you approach the situation that does.

And that’s what I realized after reflecting and reading my own post and journal entry over the last 10 years.

I’m still stuck in the same thinking pattern, and that thinking pattern is not bringing me results, or rather, not giving me the inner peace or state of mind that I sought.

Going through the peaks of motivation and valleys of despair, often leaving good work unfinished.

I guess at 27 you start to realize the pattern since it has been long enough and that if you don’t really change anything, everything’s going to stay the same and that the best years of your life is just going to pass you by.

I read somewhere a good description of hell will be on the day you die, you meet at the gates the person you could have been.

Yup, that will be hell in my opinion, a life full of potential unfulfilled, and yet somehow I sense myself tumbling into that direction.

So I started to really question myself about myself.

Taking a trek into the high mountains of my own mind as the author Robert Pirsig described.

Since 2012, after the Olympics, I found myself largely stuck.

It’s a mix of not knowing what to do next, mourning over the opportunities lost and regret certain lack of actions that I could have but didn’t take.

And quite frankly, that lead to some very troubling times. The best way I can try to describe that feeling is to have a fractured mind.

And a fractured mind trying to heal itself was like a broken bone trying to mend itself whilst it had to bear the weight of the body to keep the body alive.

I found myself repeatedly trying to focus on immediate goals, achieving them (such as getting my motorbike license), but then fall back into the valleys of despair ever so quickly after the peak.

Hence I sought to solve the bigger problem here.

And upon much reflections, I realized that all I was seeking wasn’t quite the material or achievement wants that I thought was the important bits of success, but rather all I sought was just a state of mind.

A state of mind that is in complete self-control, the only control that one can have.

What I had been doing is best described in this paragraph:

“What’s really been getting you stuck is the running from the stuckness through the cars of your train of knowledge looking for a solution that is out in front of the train.”

I’ve been trying to find the future in my past.

And another big realization I’ve had from the book was that I had been an ‘ego-climber’ rather than a ‘zen-climber’

            “Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you’re no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself.”

            “Any effort that has self-glorification as its final endpoint is bound to end in disaster. Now we’re paying the price. When you try to climb a mountain to prove how big you are, you almost never make it. And even if you do it’s a hollow victory. In order to sustain the victory you have to prove yourself again and again in some other way, and again and again and again, driven forever to fill a false image, haunted by the fear that the image is not true and someone will find out. That’s never the way.”

            “When an ego-climber has an image of himself to protect he naturally lies to protect this image.” 

So why did I try to go to the Olympics to start off with all those years ago?

Was I doing it for self-glorification?

Yeah, I was, I wanted to be great. I wanted to be somebody.

I guess that’s why when I failed along the way, the false identity that I built up around myself being a great athlete fell apart, and along with that it fractured my mind.

So what should I be doing?

What should I really seek?

This concept of quality is described in depth by Robert Pirsig, in fact, it probably is the central idea which the entire book revolves around (hence I highly recommend to everyone to read this book).

To describe my overly simple interpretation of it, it will be to seek excellence with a peace of mind.

Aretê, this other concept that Robert mentions, a concept of holistic excellence, is something I sought as an individual, which is probably why I was drawn to decathlon to start off with.

So where do I go from here?

I still don’t know.

I’m still stuck.

But at least I know that it’s ok that I’m stuck, and that I should not run away from the feeling of being stuck but to stay in it.

For it is staring into the unknown, being right on the edge of consciousness that is now, that we can forge the future with.

What does the future bring?

We can hope, plan and take some action.

And perhaps that’s what dreams are for, to serve as a beacon where you should sail the ship towards and set the plans for.

This time before I set off on the next journey, I can safely say I honestly don’t know where I’m exactly going to end up, but wherever it is and wherever it may bring me, I’ll enjoy the steps as I take them.

“Trials never end, of course. Unhappiness and misfortune are bound to occur as long as people live, but there is a feeling now, that was not here before, and is not just on the surface of things, but penetrates all the way through: We’ve won it. It’s going to get better now. You can sort of tell these things.” – Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig

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