Here's something to ponder as you come out of the stupor from a long holiday weekend.
Do you consider our riding endeavours as a lifestyle or a way of life?
Last week we had some family over. My middle son had spent three weeks in Europe. During the course of the gathering Travis had the chance to show his pictures. They were on three CD's which we were able to show on our television.
In Paris there's this big square with the Louvre Museum, the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe in near proximity. Travis' picture of the Arc de Triomphe showed quite a number of motorcycles. Having the reputation of a motorcycle nut, the assembled group turned to me and made motorcycle related comments. What stuck in my mind was the comment someone made about me living a motorcycle "lifestyle".
Personally, I've never considered my enjoyment of riding and the use of bikes in my world as a lifestyle. To me, riding is a way of life. Here's the difference according to my mind.
The word "lifestyle", to me, denotes putting something on. My Merriam-Webster desktop dictionary has two definitions. The first definition is when the word is used as a noun. It states: A way of living.
The second definition is when the word is used as an adjective. It states: Associated with, reflecting, or promoting an enhanced or more desirable lifestyle.
To say someone lives a motorcycling lifestyle would then mean they were using the bikes to get somewhere they think is more desirable or enhanced than where they are. A lot of people do that very thing. There's a large group of riders to whom the bike is a prop in a play. When they put on their carefully contrived costume and sit on the bike the acting starts. These people use the bike to try to convince others that they're something different than what they really are. Ever notice that this extra "something" is more enhanced? Like it makes up for what they lack. They try to appear more "bad", "brave", "cool", or an "individualist". Among other things. I love this "let's all show our rugged individualism by dressing and acting exactly alike". Woe to anyone who actually has the nerve to be "different". They soon find themselves exiting the group.
I consider what I do to be a way of life. A bike is a tool the same as anything else. Sure, the bike is a lot more fun than a kitchen knife, but it's still a tool!
Here's the big difference I see between a way of life and lifestyle.
Riding a motorcycle has, indeed, added to the quality of my life. I've gained perspective and insights from riding. There's been added skills, a sense of confidence, and a satisfaction in overcoming adversity. These things are added to what I already have. Once added, they become mine. With or without the bike I am now a more complete person. One of my philosophies is,
"If you're not enough without it, you'll never be enough with it."
Those who use the bike as a means to "pretend" will never find what they're after. There's no real struggle, no humbling that comes from attempting something and not making it the first time or two. There's very little real sacrifice involved. Their instant gratification that comes from adopting a "lifestyle" is like a painting. It looks good but there's nothing behind it.
For those to whom motorcycling is a way of life, the depth comes a little at a time. Getting up and facing the cold ride each morning. Dealing with commuter traffic. Performing frequent maintenance on the bike because we actually put miles on it. Struggling to master a new skill and finally conquering. These are all things that are real; built upon by a series of small steps every day. Added to what we already own in our lives.
That's my take on it. Of course, I'm a motorcyclist, not a philosopher. This is only my own opinion. What do you think? Lifestyle or way of life?
Feel free to use the comment section to express yourself!
Miles and smiles,