Friday, March 28, 2008

Zen and the Art

I'm not saying that motorcycles aren't cool. I'm not even saying that they aren't safe to operate.

What I'm saying is that if you went to an amusement park, and it had a ride that went eighty miles per hour but had no seat belts, and instead of cars it had chairs in the open air, you would NOT get on that ride.

And really, even that comparison is too gracious. A roller coaster travels, all by itself, on a set track that's regularly inspected for safety. It doesn't zip along free-form while bigger, safer roller coasters are moving all around it.

Yet everyday, people ride motorcycles, content to believe that as long as they wear a helmet and hang on real tight, everything will be fine.

Even more hilarious, there are also people content to ride while hanging onto the driver, assuming not only that they can hang onto him, but that he can hang onto the motorcycle while a whole other person is hanging onto him.

The more you think about it, the more ridiculous it becomes.

Now, my critics will respond that riding a motorcycle is a spiritual experience, pure freedom from metal and gasoline. Deus ex machina . . .

And to that I'd respond, "If trusting your life to the average 16-year-old in an SUV is the only way you can feed your soul, you might have some other issues that need to be taken care of first."

But jokes aside, I'm not entirely sure that the critics are wrong. If there's some element of chance, of danger, in everything we do, then "playing it safe" is just a matter of playing the odds.

It's like the "pot odds" in poker. Sometimes there are situations where, even if probability is against you, the reward is so great that you're better off taking the chance. Sometimes it's worth it. Sometimes it's really worth it.*

*Not that I'm going to start riding motorcycles. I'm not stupid.

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