Monday, September 18, 2006

Popping the Cork.

The other evening we had company over for supper. There was a wine bottle sitting on the counter with the cork inserted loosely. One of the children of a guest accidently knocked over the bottle. As we cleaned it up I saw the bottle in one spot with the cork not far away. Picking up both, I had an epiphany. No, that doesn't mean a fit of anger!

I recreated the situation ( minus the spilled wine, of course ) so you can see what I saw. Being one who's always thinking about riding, a thought sprang to mind. My philosophical side which I call The Ancient Mariner came to the fore. Here's the thought that started it all.

A motorcycle can either be a means to cork oneself in a bottle or a means to uncork our personal bottles and set us free.

Think about it. There's a lot of pressure from society, government safety-crats, and peer groups to conform to a certain predetermined mould. You might liken it to being stuffed into a bottle. Whatever's in the bottle is forced to conform to the bottle's dimensions. The cork keeps the contents trapped. Only by popping the cork and escaping can one be free to take back their own shape.

Motorcycles have always been the means to keep the cork popped for me. I feel the same pressures to conform. Sometimes it serves our own purpose to fit in here and there. For example, having a job to support ourselves. It might not be what we would choose but we accept it as a means to an end. During the day I slide into the bottle's shape. After the day's done, I crawl onto the bike. Commuting on two wheels help ensure I don't stay trapped in somebody else's idea of what I should be.

Riding helps me explore and discover who I really am. Or to become what I really want to be. Many of my finer attributes have come from the freedom that being on two wheels offers me. I'm free to turn this way and that, to try this road or the other. What happens literally on a bike also happens figuratively in my life. A lot of personal growth has happened due to the freedom I find in riding. The physical act of riding translates to the mental aspect. I refuse to be boxed in. So I may be sharing the same place of employment as others, but I will always be that "bike guy". The same, but different, somehow.

In a situation that's the polar opposite, many turn to riding to conform to a certain image. By the act of buying a certain type of bike, wearing certain types of gear, and associating with a certain group of riders, they are purposely inserting themselves into a bottle. The dimensions and shape are dictated to them. These folks claim to be expressing their individuality. In reality, it's a case of "let's be different together". I used the word "case" purposely. They all want to be of the same vintage and in the same bottle. When you look at them it's like looking at a row of wine bottles on a shelf. All with the same label, shape, and color. You could put them all into a case and send them to market.

God forbid if you try to either tell them the truth or pull the cork out of their personal bottles. Some sort of great personal need is fulfilled. It's not for me, but I'm happy they're finding what they need. I'm not happy that they seem to think they're better than me or what they do to the reputation of motorcycling in general. Sometimes I get the chance to try to impart some two-wheeled wisdom to some of them. That part, I care deeply about.

On the other hand, I don't really care what they think of me. You see, the cork's off my bottle and I see the world from a larger vantage point. It's all relative to the dimensions of your world.

Something to muse on while you ride, no?

Miles and smiles,

Disclaimer: No actual wine bottles were harmed in the creation of this post. Nobody rode a motorcycle after drinking wine. Please separate any "popping of corks" and riding. Any written blending of references to riding and consuming alcoholic beverages is purely for illustrative purposes.


Steve Williams said...

Interesting observations Dan. The reasons people own and ride are certainly diverse. Freedom and individuality are marketing messages for many popular machines even to the point of showing singular riders in vast empty landscapes. A dream for sure and a reality for a few but most riders I have met loath riding alone. Some find it frightening to be without support either physical or emotional but most find a lot of identity developed in the group---that let's be different together you describe. And that's OK. Just not for me.

I don't particularly care if I am different, I just want to follow my own path where ever it leads. In regard to riding it is generally alone, slow, and deliberate.


Gary said...

Boxes within boxes, or wine in a bottle... the analogies and metaphors are endless.

The cold, hard fact is: some of us need and actually feel comforted by the routine, and the rest of us don't.

It is interesting to note that a certain corporation made riding together in large groups into a symbol of individuality and freedom.

When you get into these situations, what you find is regimentation and conformity, albeit in a different flavor from the ordinary everyday reality.

Big deal....

That's why, most of the time, I ride alone.

Ride well,

Dick said...

You didn't let us see the label on the wine to get insight to your taste in wine. Another thought is being forced into the bottle can change us and when we get out of the bottle we can be better for it. Sort of like aging well in the bottle. Having been a solo rider/ commuter for 20 years I am also now a group rider with HOG groups and enjoy them. But the freedom aspect is good but being in the bottle and released is like tempering and hardening you to cope with the world better. Ride on.

irondad said...

one thing I appreciate about riding is that we can all find what we desire. I just wish people would be honest about it.

you can't fault their marketing. the powers that be have a great grasp of human nature and exploit it to their advantage.

yeah, it wasn't a wine advertisement. Let me tell you that I'm not a wine snob but I don't drink Boone's Farm, either. You are absolutely correct that change can help us grow. I just think we should pick our own bottles and have control of the cork.