I’ve recently taken up motorcycling, after several years of contemplating the idea. I completed a motorcycle training course, passed my skills test, and now have what we call here where I live an “N” permit–not a full motorcycle license, but I can do pretty much most of the riding I want to do–I just can’t take passengers or ride at night. I still need to complete my road test to get my full Class 6 (motorcycle license). I’m also the proud owner of a new (to me) 750 cc motorcycle that in the month I’ve owned it, I’ve already put over 1,000 kilometres on, just casually riding it on my days off. One of my instructors, who went through the very same course as a novice rider herself six years ago, calls riding her “zen time”. It’s the same for me. There’s something about being out there on the open road that just feels wonderful. I can’t really describe it, but I love it. I feel closer to the places I ride through, more in touch with the world around me, rather than separated as I do in the car. I smell the desert sage (good), and the roadkill (not so good), and everything in-between.
I’m also very well aware of the risks associated with riding, and some are significant. As our instructors said, everything you do has risk; but, what makes anything safer is what you do to manage and mitigate risk I’m talking practical things like properly learning how to carry out the activity, wearing good protective clothing, using equipment that’s in good repair–things like that. Seems obvious, but not all of us think through things that way. When I was a Christian Scientist, I sometimes tended to go through life with an ‘eternal sunshine of the spotless mind’ attitude. After all, if everything is perfect, why worry about anything? As I’ve written about in the past, Christian Science has a tendency to create a sense of nihilism in its followers, I think. That was sometimes the case with me. Not that I went out of my way to do risky things, but I remember many times where I didn’t always think through the potential consequences or risks associated with things. Now I do–but in a healthy way (most of the time). I take the necessary steps to ensure that I reduce the risk as much as I can, but I work to strike a healthy balance between practicality and paranoia. You can’t eliminate all of the risks associated with riding, but if you do the right things, ride defensively, and wear the right protective clothing, riding can be a relatively safe activity.
Over the years, I’ve known a few Christian Scientists who’ve been motorcycle riders. As I’ve thought of my own time in the seat, I’ve wondered how I’d approach my riding if I was still a Christian Scientist pursuing an activity that potentially exposes you to a high risk of personal injury, and I wonder how they do. I’ve wondered more than a few times what I’d do if I wiped out and suffered abrasions on my body from skidding on the pavement (a common injury), or blunt-force trauma from an impact. Would I seek medical attention or not? As I think back, I would have. I was always more “CS-lite”. I was never a radical relier on Christian Science. But, I always felt deeply conflicted about medical treatment. I also sometimes wonder how I would approach or think about the risks and how much thought to pay to minimizing them. Then I think about how a truly radical Christian Scientist would approach things, and I shudder. I can’t imagine dealing with injuries by simply praying about them. I’ve seen pictures of abrasion wounds, and I can’t for one microsecond think about the idea of exclusively praying about it. The pain would be unimaginable! Not to mention the certainty of infection and blood loss. You can try to deny the reality all you want, but when you’re dead, it’s too late.
As a sensible human being who lives in this big bad world, I take all the steps I can to minimize my risk. I’ve invested in good riding lessons which have set me on my way with very good riding habits; I do not ride outside of my comfort zone; I always wear proper protective clothing (no matter how hot it is outside); and I wear a proper helmet. If I’m ever unfortunate enough to be in an accident, I sure as hell won’t pray about it. I’ll ride the ambulance straight to the hospital. I can’t imagine doing things any other way.
Anyways, these are just thoughts from my “zen place” on the bike. I’m ever so grateful to not be a Christian Scientist anymore; and to simply be able to enjoy what life and this so-called ‘material world’ has to offer. Next up: skydiving (maybe).