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Old 11-12-2013, 08:42 AM   #1
Eudaimonia OP
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Cool2 Mooing At An Indifferent Cow

My rides of late have been morning coffee runs: thirty minute jaunts to get my mocha and blueberry muffin. Satisfying as a morning buzz goes, but certainly not a motorcycle ride to remember. I have simply not been in a mood to ride lately, but fortunately you don’t need to be in a mood to ride so much as you need to get out the door with a route to ride. So I laid out a loop with the hopes of taking some photographs along the way. Perhaps other events would happen, too.

I left at 8:00 am, camera in pannier. It was a chilly morning. This always surprises me in Florida even though such days are common from November through February. Riding into the brisk air at 60 mph felt comfortably cool as it rushed through my helmet vents. I felt relaxed floating down the road, perhaps too relaxed. As I looked around at the open fields on both sides of me, I came up on a curve. As usual I set up my turn line and entered it just fine. The problem, which I was yet to notice, was I going a little too fast. This extra speed guarantees the arc of the turn will widen and take you to its outside edge, in this case toward the double yellow line. I was pleasantly unaware of this as my mental firmware was in control of the bike. This was about to change.

As I followed through on the turn at a decent lean, I glanced in the direction of the widening arc and saw a car approaching straight for me. I felt a sharp pang in my gut and shifted my attention to the impending event. I now realized my turning arc was off the mark. I had about two seconds to react. With the pang intensifying, I gently squeezed the front brake, slowing down just enough that the bike fell back into the proper turn line. By reducing my speed a controlled amount, I pulled away from the double yellow line and — that was that. The driver seemed to not take note of any of this as he made no attempt to give me extra room. Apparently nothing was amiss. For me, what was a second between seeing and reacting felt much longer. The 16-year-old Albert Einstein use to image sitting on top of a photon and riding along with a beam of light, wondering what the world would like from that perspective. He realized time and space would not be the same, eventually leading to his Theory of Relativity during his Annus Mirabilis (1905, the "miraculous year", so called because he published four papers, each of which literally changed the course of physics or solved what had been an intractable problem, including the discovery of the now famous E=mc² equation -- not a bad year, eh?). It felt like I was riding on one of those photons inside my mind as it coursed through my brain. From my perspective, time had indeed slowed down riding that mental photon and I could comfortably take action without any fear of running out of it.

What happened here? Exactly what should have happened. I was riding at the unconscious firmware level and an event occurred that needed my attention. My body signaled this by the pang in my gut. This pang is what gave the moment value. Without it, the moment would have been registered as neutral, business as usual, and I would have remained in the firmware mode. If that happens when in fact it should not, a person is in what might be called emotional denial of the moment: they are not giving the proper emotional value to an incident as it is happening. Those emotions are what are needed to direct your attention to the proper place. These two responses mark the endpoints of a scale: from a proper visceral valuing to an emotional denial of the moment. Every moment of every day falls on this continuum, and we are choosing how it will be valued, with each choice having consequences that are trivial or life-threatening, but always with consequences.

I kept riding, relieved that my turn worked out so well while I continued looking for photographs. Open field after open field on both sides, but nothing for miles. Then I saw one of those fields was peppered with distant cattle. This one was more than an open field: it was a cattle grazing field. I pulled over to take several shots, though I didn’t feel any of those good pangs I get when I catch a photograph. But you never know until you look at them. At the moment what I knew was I felt irritated remounting my motorcycle.

To stop and restart a few minutes later is a break in the motorcycle action that I did not want without an immediate payoff. And this was a problem, this expectation. It sets one up for failure — only one-in-fifty shots become photographs, even in the best of circumstances, and nothing worthwhile in photography is immediate. My feelings rushed me through taking shots in less than ten minutes, hardly what one would call working the shot, a term photographers use to describe taking repeated shots of a subject as they move around repositioning themselves, reframing, and adjusting camera settings. In such moments, the photographer is visually thinking. My irritation short-circuited something I should have allowed to flourish: I allowed my emotions to impede my visual thinking. Here was my failing to integrate my two principle tools, the camera and the motorcycle, into an effective unified instrument. No surprise that the Eudaimonic Self was not to be seen out in the middle of that chilly grazing field.





I continued to ride down the road realizing what I had done. I could only hope another opportunity would arise. Literally at the moment I had that thought I saw two steers standing close to road, as if my thinking had created them. I stopped, dismounted the bike, got my camera with a quiet deliberation, and this time started working the shot. When photographing steers you learn they are not eager to have a stranger stand too close. The closer I got, the more they walked away, looking back every several steps. Both steers stopped about a hundred feet from me and looked out into the field. What is one to do in such moments? Well, it was obvious — moo as loudly as possible in your best guttural voice and hope for the best. And indeed, one of the steers turned his head and looked straight at me for a couple of seconds. I took a few shots. He turned away, I mooed again. He turned again. More shots again.

The third time I mooed extra loud and long, the same routine followed only it was getting funnier to me and I could see this steer was getting bored with it. A fourth time? No, I decided to leave him be while I wondering what all this would look like to anyone who could hear and see it. This would certainly be my most memorable conversation of the day. A photograph did result from the third round of mooing entitled, Indifference. Look closely and you will see why it is entitled, Indifference.





A wide turn corrected by a pang in my gut and having a conversation with a cow that resulted in a photograph, both involving emotions that directed my attention. Compared to the mind, emotions have a substantial weight and will whip attention wherever they want, for better or worse. Despite what we want to believe, the mind is always the tail to the dog of emotion. We want to believe otherwise because we have become so enamored with reason and the control it gives us at times. But reason is a thin shiny coat riding on top of something very large and very deep in evolutionary time. There is no question that my emotions were directing my attention in ways I was barely aware of. But I was also able to quiet those emotions enough to give that shiny coat of attention the freedom it needed to wag a bit as it pleased, to eventually moo at a cow and catch him in the ultimate act of indifference. And it is precisely this ability that makes all of us so gloriously and tragically human.

You just never know where a motorcycle ride will take you. You need only pay attention.
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Eudaimonia screwed with this post 11-13-2013 at 07:12 AM Reason: they are steers, not cows!
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Old 11-12-2013, 07:16 PM   #2
psmcd
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Risk taking is obvious, but reverie and tangential thought are also Jekyls of the biker's Hyde. They consort with inattention, or arrogance, leaving the pangs to the well intentioned doctor. We each have our own state of attunement, and tendencies to wander. Angular momentum allows the rider to fall back on experience and rely on unconscious engrams. But none of this attends to demands of the immediate like a vigilant and focused mind. Pangs are symptoms, evidence of something already past. A last chance for a rider and insufficient for the unexpected.

I venture the change in seating position from the bicycle to the Vulcan, the addition of the motor and suspension, has altered your priorities of thought while cycling. Be safe out there.
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Old 11-12-2013, 07:26 PM   #3
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Mooing at Indifferent Cows, aside from being a great name for a band, is precisely why Shesaid and I don't have helmet to helmet communication setups.

MV
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Old 11-13-2013, 07:22 AM   #4
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Cool2 thanks so much fo feedback

yes, absolutely, the pang is your last chance. it's a warning system, which would have been worth stressing. this was unusual for me as my engrams, as you call them - i like that, takes care of my riding 99% of the time. it was indeed the inattention in this case that made the pang necessary. in a previous piece posted here at advrider, i talked about a "sphere of awareness" having a time dimension; i could have connected that to this: it is the past portion of the sphere that results in the pang, too late to do anything about what triggered it, but the future portion of the sphere is still amenable to action.

FYI/i know i'm spinning an overly complex description, but i have bigger fish to fry as i'm building a model to describe something bigger (see my blog below).

thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. i hope i can see more from you. and absolutely, safety is paramount, it is one of my main focuses.

dom

Quote:
Originally Posted by psmcd View Post
Risk taking is obvious, but reverie and tangential thought are also Jekyls of the biker's Hyde. They consort with inattention, or arrogance, leaving the pangs to the well intentioned doctor. We each have our own state of attunement, and tendencies to wander. Angular momentum allows the rider to fall back on experience and rely on unconscious engrams. But none of this attends to demands of the immediate like a vigilant and focused mind. Pangs are symptoms, evidence of something already past. A last chance for a rider and insufficient for the unexpected.

I venture the change in seating position from the bicycle to the Vulcan, the addition of the motor and suspension, has altered your priorities of thought while cycling. Be safe out there.
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Old 11-13-2013, 07:26 AM   #5
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Cool2 >Hesaid: Band Name

i love it, had to revise to steer as not cows, my mistake. steer doesn't quite as well as cow for the band: MOOING AT AN INDIFFERENT COW ... yep, that would work :-)

hope to see more of your comments, i liked this one.
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Old 11-13-2013, 09:28 AM   #6
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That reminds me of an incident long ago...
My brother and I were riding a narrow two lane road near the Delaware Water gap here in New Jersey around 1970. We had slowed to first gear speeds so we could talk back and forth between us. At that moment, I noticed a small group of cows in a field to our right. I stood up on the footpegs and yelled "Mooooooo!!!" at the top of my lungs. I don't know what I said in cow language, but it didn't go over very well. The herd of cows parted and a bull came charging at us and the skimpy wire fence that separated the field from the road!
Our Lady Of Blessed Acceleration, please don't fail me now!!
We didn't look back....and we didn't mooo at any more cows!
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Old 11-13-2013, 01:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eudaimonia View Post
i love it, had to revise to steer as not cows, my mistake. steer doesn't quite as well as cow for the band: MOOING AT AN INDIFFERENT COW ... yep, that would work :-)

hope to see more of your comments, i liked this one.
We actually had quite the dinner conversation last night about the mooing. For reasons unknown, mooing at cows seems right, but horses we both tend to talk to in English. I usually just say "Hey", though they probably hear "hay". Squirrels get yelled at, mostly in regards to their tendencies to run out into the road. Tarantulas just get quietly steered around.

As for my comments, well, Shesaid is the wordy one, and folks have been commenting in our thread:

HERE

that they like her writing. I mostly get to respond. Someone has to defend against her wild accusations!

MV
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Old 11-13-2013, 07:40 PM   #8
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Re: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=930421

I have experienced what you relate about cancelling the turn signal. I never before had a bike with one and did little riding that involved/required signaling. Re: sphere of awareness there's no reason the past can't be flattened forward nearly to the present, and the future reach elongated as far forward as necessary. Speed demands it or will remove you from its realm. And memory can be utilized like the signal. You remember briefly until the act of canceling the signal also cancels that short memory loop.

I think you might be the writer to articulate something on my mind of late. Perhaps it's part of your bigger model?:

To varying degrees, we condition ourselves in counterproductive behavior. We normalize distraction (call it multi-tasking) and transfer this behavior from relatively safe states like sitting at the desk while reading and talking on the phone simultaneously, to driving a car while talking on the phone and looking for an unfamiliar destination (for example). This normalized, habitual behavior can then contaminate an activity that warrants full and undivided attention, like riding a motorcycle. Once you have become habitually distracted, you are distractible, even when you intend to be focused. This condition is a growing peril, not just from the distracted multitude we move among, but because of our own diminished capacity to immediately snap back on task from a momentary diversion. Ours is a society of distraction, where people have become accustomed to mentally wander and linger.

With speed (highly relative) you should increasingly filter/deflect distractions. It's that expanse between full race and stasis where danger resides. I'll read and enjoy your other posts before commenting further.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Eudaimonia View Post
yes, absolutely, the pang is your last chance. it's a warning system, which would have been worth stressing. this was unusual for me as my engrams, as you call them - i like that, takes care of my riding 99% of the time. it was indeed the inattention in this case that made the pang necessary. in a previous piece posted here at advrider, i talked about a "sphere of awareness" having a time dimension; i could have connected that to this: it is the past portion of the sphere that results in the pang, too late to do anything about what triggered it, but the future portion of the sphere is still amenable to action.

FYI/i know i'm spinning an overly complex description, but i have bigger fish to fry as i'm building a model to describe something bigger (see my blog below).

thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. i hope i can see more from you. and absolutely, safety is paramount, it is one of my main focuses.

dom

psmcd screwed with this post 11-14-2013 at 12:54 PM
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Old 11-15-2013, 02:45 AM   #9
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people talking at the proverbial dinner table

thanks for comments, dinner talk talk, that makes me SOOOO happy. it is what i wanted, for post to generate people talking at the proverbial dinner table :-))

will read SheSaid, very curious now. thanks again.

keep 'em coming,

dom

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hesaid View Post
We actually had quite the dinner conversation last night about the mooing. For reasons unknown, mooing at cows seems right, but horses we both tend to talk to in English. I usually just say "Hey", though they probably hear "hay". Squirrels get yelled at, mostly in regards to their tendencies to run out into the road. Tarantulas just get quietly steered around.

As for my comments, well, Shesaid is the wordy one, and folks have been commenting in our thread:

HERE

that they like her writing. I mostly get to respond. Someone has to defend against her wild accusations!

MV
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Old 11-15-2013, 02:56 AM   #10
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Cool2 love it, lost in translation and charged by bull!!!

what a great, great story!!! see, they do have a language -- lost in translation, i guess, you probably said "hey there, hot ladies, where's your booooooyfriend?" and you found out. LOL. actually, in my case, turned out they were steer, i now know the difference (steer are bulls that have been castrated).

thanks for taking time to comment and share.

keep 'em coming,

domenic


Quote:
Originally Posted by Offcenter View Post
That reminds me of an incident long ago...
My brother and I were riding a narrow two lane road near the Delaware Water gap here in New Jersey around 1970. We had slowed to first gear speeds so we could talk back and forth between us. At that moment, I noticed a small group of cows in a field to our right. I stood up on the footpegs and yelled "Mooooooo!!!" at the top of my lungs. I don't know what I said in cow language, but it didn't go over very well. The herd of cows parted and a bull came charging at us and the skimpy wire fence that separated the field from the road!
Our Lady Of Blessed Acceleration, please don't fail me now!!
We didn't look back....and we didn't mooo at any more cows!
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Old 11-15-2013, 03:09 AM   #11
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Cool2 yes!!!!

we may be talking about same thing, certainly sounds it.

my bigger idea, so to speak, is stolen, Eudaimonia (and how to achieve by the moral choices we make, who we chose to be in the world): it means a flourishing life, what the greek philosophers called it. some essays on blog get into it. one of the ideas i touch on is (selective) attention, how we use it, how it is structured. if not used "correctly" we can never have a flourishing life because we simply aren't present. today, few people are present, just operating on firmware, good or bad. Buddhist are first to tell you be in the moment. i agree, but add, allow that knowledge to begin the slow process of reprograming your firmware where necessary. here is one aspect of my model:



(yeah, i was a lecturer -- taught PhD grad psychotherapy grad students). i've since expanded it out to what you see at the blog, or started to, hardly finished. the handout is for Self/Surround part of model. i know i can sound like some kook sitting in a basement writing crazy stuff (maybe true, not in basement though, in my garage office). maybe i am :-) but i do have a normal life, so there is hope i'm not. not making bombs, that's good too.

anyway, that's the scoop.

keep 'em coming,

domenic


Quote:
Originally Posted by psmcd View Post
Re: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=930421

I have experienced what you relate about cancelling the turn signal. I never before had a bike with one and did little riding that involved/required signaling. Re: sphere of awareness there's no reason the past can't be flattened forward nearly to the present, and the future reach elongated as far forward as necessary. Speed demands it or will remove you from its realm. And memory can be utilized like the signal. You remember briefly until the act of canceling the signal also cancels that short memory loop.

I think you might be the writer to articulate something on my mind of late. Perhaps it's part of your bigger model?:

To varying degrees, we condition ourselves in counterproductive behavior. We normalize distraction (call it multi-tasking) and transfer this behavior from relatively safe states like sitting at the desk while reading and talking on the phone simultaneously, to driving a car while talking on the phone and looking for an unfamiliar destination (for example). This normalized, habitual behavior can then contaminate an activity that warrants full and undivided attention, like riding a motorcycle. Once you have become habitually distracted, you are distractible, even when you intend to be focused. This condition is a growing peril, not just from the distracted multitude we move among, but because of our own diminished capacity to immediately snap back on task from a momentary diversion. Ours is a society of distraction, where people have become accustomed to mentally wander and linger.

With speed (highly relative) you should increasingly filter/deflect distractions. It's that expanse between full race and stasis where danger resides. I'll read and enjoy your other posts before commenting further.
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Old 11-20-2013, 05:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psmcd View Post
Re: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=930421


To varying degrees, we condition ourselves in counterproductive behavior. We normalize distraction (call it multi-tasking) and transfer this behavior from relatively safe states like sitting at the desk while reading and talking on the phone simultaneously, to driving a car while talking on the phone and looking for an unfamiliar destination (for example). This normalized, habitual behavior can then contaminate an activity that warrants full and undivided attention, like riding a motorcycle. Once you have become habitually distracted, you are distractible, even when you intend to be focused. This condition is a growing peril, not just from the distracted multitude we move among, but because of our own diminished capacity to immediately snap back on task from a momentary diversion. Ours is a society of distraction, where people have become accustomed to mentally wander and linger.

With speed (highly relative) you should increasingly filter/deflect distractions. It's that expanse between full race and stasis where danger resides. I'll read and enjoy your other posts before commenting further.
Society not only "normalizes" distraction, it insists upon it. There is much pressure to master multi-tasking; with a prevailing sentiment that concentration on any specific task is a sign of simplicity or laziness. Meanwhile, we bemoan the "increase" in cases of Attention Deficit Disorder with nary a thought of how our societal pressures to multi-tasking might be a contributing factor.

I wonder if part of the joy of riding isn't directly related to its requirement for full focus? Providing the human mind/body/spirit with a decadent opportunity to engage in what is becoming widely regarded as selfish and lazy behavior-- the act of actually being in the moment and concentrating wholey on what one is doing at that moment.

Is riding a means of rectifying the imbalance of that habitualization toward distraction in everyday life?
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Old 11-24-2013, 07:40 PM   #13
psmcd
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cycle zen

Yes, I was merely a distracted child in the 50s, since there was no sanctioned label like ADD (90+% of which I don't buy, diagnosis or treatment). Energy so high and attention span so short my feet hardly reached the earth. Stranded in low earth orbit, a motorcycle was the missing link. Wheels to synchronize my passage with the planet.

Unlike those Eastern types who quiet their minds to nearly static rhythms, we Westerners require meditations that accelerate to match our internal rate. Once on the motorcycle my mind became quiet. Focused. One with the world through wheels.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Shesaid View Post
Society not only "normalizes" distraction, it insists upon it. There is much pressure to master multi-tasking; with a prevailing sentiment that concentration on any specific task is a sign of simplicity or laziness. Meanwhile, we bemoan the "increase" in cases of Attention Deficit Disorder with nary a thought of how our societal pressures to multi-tasking might be a contributing factor.

I wonder if part of the joy of riding isn't directly related to its requirement for full focus? Providing the human mind/body/spirit with a decadent opportunity to engage in what is becoming widely regarded as selfish and lazy behavior-- the act of actually being in the moment and concentrating wholey on what one is doing at that moment.

Is riding a means of rectifying the imbalance of that habitualization toward distraction in everyday life?

psmcd screwed with this post 11-24-2013 at 08:27 PM
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Old 11-25-2013, 05:04 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psmcd View Post
to synchronize my passage with the planet.
I love this wording as well as the sentiment. Be it motorcycles, hiking boots, etc, everyone should find the means to "synchronize [their] passage with the planet." I'm going to steal this saying
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