Friday, April 27, 2007

Metaphysical musings.

The other day Harv, aka the Roadbum, put out a post about riding in heavy traffic. There was also somewhat of a philosophical element to the post. Click here to go to his blog. The post is called "Two sides of the same coin, Part 1".

My brain has this annoying quirk of taking things I come across and running with them. Sometimes it's a great thing while other times it can make me crazy. I keep thinking about riding a motorcycle in heavy traffic. One of the reasons it stays on my mind is that I ride in heavy freeway traffic almost every stinkin' day! Nothing like two hundred miles of dealing with possessed cagers to keep a rider wondering about one thing. Why????

Why do they all seem to have the same crazed traits? Why do so many of them take such dangerous chances just to get a car length or two farther ahead? Why are they always in such a rush? Why does driving a car seem to bring out the worst in them? Why is it that the feeding frenzy is at its most vicious when traffic is bunched up? Why can't they just relax and go with the flow? Why can't they even use their freakin' turns signals at least?

Seriously, I shake my head in wonderment every day. It is literally unfathomable to me that the highways aren't littered with more carnage than they already are. I have a hard time understanding how a seemingly normal person can get into a car and turn into a seething, raving, lunatic. Just a couple of days ago I observed this small sedan doing things that would net the driver some serious penalties if pulled over by a cop. That's nothing new, of course. Here's the thing that blew me away, though.

I'd seen this driver a little earlier in the trip under more serene circumstances. Just North of Salem the freeway expands to three lanes. There's no majorly populated towns along the interstate for a number of miles. Traffic flows pretty smoothly through here. This sedan had passed me. I ride about 75 mph along here. The car driver was doing about 82. I observed her as she went by. To all outward appearances she was some Daddy's little girl. Young, nice looking, with a sweet face to go with it all. Somebody you'd imagine blushing as she brought her beau home to meet Mom and Dad. It was hard to believe that this same sweet looking creature was now the Raving Lunatic. Up toward Wilsonville the Interstate starts to enter the heavily populated Feeder Cities. People are stumbling their way towards work in the Big City of Portland which has over half a million people in the city proper. Naturally, traffic is slower and heavier up here.

Now this same sweet looking girl was diving in and out of gaps barely big enough for the car. Having caught up to her, I watched her flip off some other drivers. I saw her pound the steering wheel once. Reading her lips, I determined that the things coming out of her mouth I wouldn't even want in my hands. I wouldn't have been surprised to see her foaming at the mouth by now. What happens to people?

I think my brain's finally come up with the answer. Bear with me while I make a little trip to Star Wars. By the time we're done here, maybe you'll agree with me. Maybe you'll have your own opinions to share. Just remember, though, Light Sabers must be checked at the door!

You'll notice a picture of Obi Wan at the top of this post. Remember his immortal words to Luke Skywalker? "May the Force be with you, Luke!"

If you were an Imperial Storm Trooper you probably needed all the help you could get riding this Imperial Speeder Bike! Then again, an Ewok stole one and rode it, so how hard could it be? Come to think of it, isn't that what we see all the time with riders? "I have no training or past experience but how hard can it be?" But I digress.

I'm not an expert on things relating to deep spirituality and the larger forces at work in our universe. Come to think of it, I'm just a Warrior with high testosterone levels. Be that as it may, I've seen some things that lead me to believe there's some sort of higher connection among humans that only a minute number of us are even aware of. As complex as we are it would seem reasonable to deduce that the capacity is there. Scientists claim that humans use only a small part of their brains. I have no trouble believing that statement! There are documented events that show how powerful the subconscious mind is. So to this battle hardened Warrior it would be reasonable to think that some sort of larger Force is out there somewhere.

I think this Force is acting on people whether they know how to channel into it or not. It influences humans even though the individual may be totally unaware this Force even exists. With me so far? Follow me as we explore further.

I've watched documentaries where it looks like a person has developed their own ability to tune into this Force, whatever it is. These folks are rare. Most humans can't do it by themselves. Just like with TV signals, radio waves, cell phone frequencies, or whatever, an antenna will improve reception. The device that displays the result of the transmissions needs the ability to be fine tuned for clarity. So it's possible to have an antenna but no clear means of getting clarity on the signal. Think of it as static on a radio. There's a signal there but the radio isn't tuned properly.
Still with me?

What if it turned out that enclosed vehicles actually turned out to be antennas? Cagers could be driving under the influence of a signal that they're totally unaware of? That could also explain why we aren't as affected on a bike. No metal around us to pick up the signals. We carry our own programming, so to speak. So now we have a glimmer of what's happening to cager's brains. I know that still doesn't explain the terrible behaviour. My brain's worked that out, too. Interested? Read on.

Having been a soldier and a cop, I've seen humans at their best and their worst. The worst usually happens when there's a notable lack of guidance for good. Have you ever noticed how quickly behaviour sinks to the lowest common denominator when left to itself? Literature is full of this theme. One book that was required reading in high school was "Lord of the Flies". Those images still haunt me. Rather than take a lot of time with documentation, let me just restate it. Without a constant influence for good, human behaviour easily sinks to the lowest levels. I'm sure you all have plenty of your own personal observations in this regard.

Back to riding a bike in heavy traffic.

We now have a bunch of drivers under the influence of a Force that could be used to great good. Since they have no idea that this Force even exists, let alone how to filter it for proper reception, only the Dark Side gets through. That accounts for why they turn into such screaming lunatics when they get into their vehicles. If you think about it, it also explains why it's so much worse in heavy traffic. Due to the close proximity of all these antennas, the effect is amplified. Literally. Being among all these concentrated negative waves can also explain why even those of us on two wheels can be tempted to do things we might call "less than civilized". Riders just have to be aware of the situation and let these negative waves slide off of us. After all, wouldn't you rather be associated with Princess Leia than with the Emperor? Even if she does have what looks like cinnamon rolls stuck to the side of her head!

Interesting to think about, isn't it? This could be a reasonable explanation. I could also be the tortured ramblings of a shell shocked Road Warrior. Maybe it's just whimsical fantasy from a blogger who's had way too much coffee at 5 AM! Either way, have a great weekend! Oh, yeah,
May the Force be with you!!

Miles and smiles,



jeffinnewyork said...

Not sure about that antenna thing, but I'd agree there is something driving the cages to feel there are no consequences to their actions.

Combatscoot said...

I think it's lack of law enforcement. Somehow, people get on really good behavior when they might be caught. Lower budgets and large population growth everywhere has resulted in less policemen per-capita.

American Scooterist Blog said...

There's something to being in an overpopulated area where people have more power than their bipedal human condition allows. They use that power in the strangest ways. Its like Combatscoot said, they're all thinking they're getting away with something. But what they're getting away with affects every other person around them.

I saw a study where it was determined that traffic jams are mostly caused by speeders. What happens is the speeder races through fairly open traffic until the speeder hits a wall of cars. Speeder then hits the brakes. All the cars behind Speeder hit thier brakes for an instant longer than Speeder did. the progression of prolonged braking goes backwards through the chain until everyone behind Speeder is braking and accelerating like a giant inchworm undulating its way down the expressway. This is why we sometimes get caught in jams where there is no discernable reason, like an accident, to give a recognizeable cause for the snarled traffic.


American Scooterist Blog said...

I'm such an idiot sometimes. I wanted to thank you for crediting me on my blog. I like your point and it was a fun read too. I enjoy reading the style you have.


Steve Williams said...

My experience with crazed cagers is limited. It surely must be the longer historical existence of driving here in the east as opposed to you who still live in the frontier. Law and civility will surely arrive.

Or maybe its because our traffic is so light even when its bad. A traffic jam here may mean a 5 minute delay.

I sometimes run across a lunatic but since it is infrequent I can let it pass without emotion or incident just as I do the occassional skunk I might cross paths with. Just an element of nature.

Seriously though Dan, I am not sure I would be riding if I had to battle everyday on the road.

Be careful out there. Everytime I read one of your posts about the crazed drivers I shudder.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Dick Aal said...

It never ceases to amaze me what people will do to try and get one car length or one second ahead. Your theory on the force is good but let's look at it from another perspective. The FORCE is out there but because of the cage it is scrambled and not being received well in the cage. Only the open air rider such as US can get the FORCE without the static.
But of course that doesn't explain the cage driver with his top down. Maybe the mass of metal is enough to scramble the signals and warp them to the dark side.

irondad said...

There is unquestionably some sort of insulating effect from being in a car. People do things there that they would never do if they were face to face.

I read somewhere that the deterrent effect from punishishment wasn't the severity but the inevitability. I have to agree. Our state police ranks are half what they were twenty years ago. Our all-wise Legislature uses police funding as a political tool but the funding never happens. We no longer have 24 hour state police coverage. The troopers we do have are few and far between. Most traffic offenders never get caught which seems to make them bolder.

All in all, I'd have to say you're probably right.

That's a very plausible explanation for the effect. On top of that, our state highway department says that when there is a backup on the freeway, it takes 6 minutes to clear for every one minute the traffic is stopped.

Now I know why I often feel like I'm wearing out my brakes on the freeway!

No problem on the blog credit. I like the way the members of this blog neighborhood make each other think about things. Thank you!

Lucky you on the light traffic! Dealing with freeway traffic in heavily populated areas has become more of an irritation than something that makes me afraid. I don't however, ever let myself get complacent.

You have a great attitude for dealing with idiots. One I strive for but never reach. It doesn't help that I see whole herds of skunks every day!!

I like your perspective. It sure makes us riders seem so much more noble, doesn't it? If your take on convertibles holds true, I hope they never make bikes like Goldwings any bigger.


Yoda said...


Wrong, you are. Antennae these are not.

When ignorant, arrogant humans, control of horsepower are given, power-mad monkeys they become.

Mean they are, and reckless too!

Beware, old warrior. The death of you they could be.

Well you should ride,