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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by AntiHero, Jul 13, 2012.
Damn man, that's some deep stuff.......
This thread was sent to me by a riding buddy who said, 'Read this and thought of you....a lot of similarities.' A lot of great posts. When you're not accepted by the majority, and the minority doesn't acknowledge you, you've achieved a unique position in life.
Looking forward to your write up on your Italian Supermodel, as I just bought a MultiStrada.
Hey enjoy Beantown, great city, lots of fun - plus its the Fall and college is in full swing in Beantown
What do U think ur time table is for NYC stop??
oof, isn't the sound of gravel rubbing and flicking it's way around your front fender unbearable? i had to do the same with my new ride. made me ill.
and cujo? i got a cujo pic for ya! fortunately this guy ended up being friendly but we didn't know that when he rounded the corner!
Two ideas I've been wrestling with finally collided while on my way from Detroit to Toronto. It took me a while to piece it all together. It's still not as 'clean' and precise as I'd like, but I'm still going to throw it out there there as-is. There's more to it than this, but I have to save something for the book.
A psychoanalyst named Spitz in the 40s studied the extremely high mortality rates among children in institutions and discovered that without touching, goochie-gooing, laughing or cuddling, children became sick, lost weight and died. His research led to the development of attachment theory and the realization that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for mental, social and emotional development to occur normally. (This, in turn, led to the seemingly obvious result: solid parental affection leads to emotional balance and a child that grows up feeling secure.) The child who grows up with intermittent affection or is abused and neglected will suffer from a life-long sense of insecurity, feelings of doom, lack of confidence and inadequacy (despite what he/she accomplishes) as well as a whole host of other possible behavioral, psychological and health issues. The part of our brain responsible for everything we consider humanlove, tenderness, emotions, reciprocityis called the limbic brain (vs. the reptilian one that controls our vitals and the neocortical brain that is responsible for thought and language).
For those who do suffer limbic deprivation when young (which can come from enforced isolation, neglect or abuse) life can be a living physiological hell: the desire for love and affection still exists (and is in a lot of cases even greater than in well-adjusted counterparts), but the capacity to actually FEEL loved is greatly diminished. Depression, anxiety, ennui, weariness, despair, aggression, etc. are the easy-to-recognize consequences, but there are others that are not typically seen as a result of the deprivation. Though healthy limbic systems can deal with emotional pain internally by releasing small amounts of opiates (there are more opiate receptors in the limbic brain than anywhere else) when needed; an undeveloped or damaged limbic system cannot. Drug and alcohol use, for instance, perform surrogate limbic regulation that modulate, suppress and compensate for what the limbic brain didnt learn in infancy and can lead to a chronic, lifelong separation-anxiety. Other methods of self-regulation include self-mutilation (an act that is not specific just to humans), which seems like a desperate cry for help, but topical injuries are actually a way to release natural analgesics and opiates. (In one sentence the mystery of why acupuncture works and why people hit walls when theyre angry have been resolved!).
So why this Neurology 101 lesson?
I havent not felt at peace on my bike ever. One more time: I havent NOT felt peaceat any time--while riding. I think clearer on the bike, the symptoms of post-brainiotomy are reduced and, aside from my hamstrings and glutes being cooked, I physically and emotionally feel far healthier on the bike than off. The anxieties and disappointments of real life are diminished, I can think about problems without being affected by them and simply feel as if everything is going to be ok. Its a mild euphoriaand Im not talking about the excitement that comes from nailing an apex or spinning the back out of a turn without crashing. Theres a connection between man and machine unlike anything Ive ever had with another non-living thing. Weve all felt it, but in all the years Ive been riding, Ive never heard or read anyone go in depth as to why. It would be easy to assume its a psychological result of the freedom we feel on a bikeor perhaps its the exhilaration that comes from taking risks--and nothing more.
But if we examine the stereotypical motorcyclist (rebellious, recalcitrant, problems with the authorities, hard-drinking, self-sabotaging, dissatisfied, frustrated, empty, adrenaline-seeking, tattooed loners who-if they find their place in society-still will never feel like they belong) we witness textbook examples of what? Limbic malfunction. (If there ever was a poster child for this it'd be Leonard Smalls, who, not coincidentally is inked with a "Mama Didn't Love Me" tattoo.)
So why is it that so many people who have similar symptoms to those with limbic malfunction choose motorcycles? Why not scooters or RVs? My theory is this: Motorcycles function as limbic system regulators and those who have the most difficulty regulating their own internal states gravitate to a piece of machinery that do it for them.
A quick examination of mammalian limbic synchronicity reveals some striking parallels with characteristics of motorcycles. There are specific sensory inputs that function as stimulators and regulators of internal systems in mammals. For instance, warmth and smells cue activity and metabolic levels, tactile stimulation increases growth hormone levels, feeling the heart rate and rise and fall of anothers chest regulates heart rate, respiration and circadian cadences, and immune system strength increases or decreases based on sensory stimulation. And if you look at the external cues that influence positive internal changes in mammals, we see how motorcycles produce mammalian signals that we desire with human physical contact. An engine is a pulsing heartbeat we feel, rpms rise and fall like air in and out of lungs, the wind caresses our hair and face and bodies like a lover would (a reason why so many riders ride helmetless even though it makes no sense?), theres warmth from the engine, the bike embraces our bodies (sportbikes put us in the a fetal position, a Harley spoons you from behind), and perhaps most important the bike reacts to our every input and responds to our inner statesif were restless it speeds up, if relaxed, it slows down.
And when we talk about being one with the bike or the road, what were actually experiencing is a limbic resonance in which our physiological rhythms are adjusted and modified through synchronized contact with our beloved motorbikes. (And while were talking about being one with the bike, it is interesting to note that the term stress originates from the Latin word meaning to pull apart or separate. Basically, stress is the result of being separated from an attachment figure and, in their absence, our bodies physically feel the separation, which leads to illness and disease. Its the exact opposite feeling we obtain when riding. And if stress and not feeling complete lead to illness, its not a stretch to assume that feeling one with the bike will lead to better health and longevity.)
In short, neural and physiological stability requires synchronization from an outside source. Many of our internal processes are not self-regulating. Motorbikes provide a surrogate regulator that modify everything from cardiovascular health to immune function, hormone levels and circadian rhythms. Its only natural to become attached to such an object, going so far as to refer to them with names and attributing gender (nearly always female, no coincidence).
Funny enough--my whole life I refused to name any of my cars or bikes. I referred to them simply as it, because I thought I loved them precisely because they werent people. But the whole time my beloved vehicles provided me with the mammalian contact and regulatory synchronization I desperately needed.
And why is this topic so important to me you might be wondering? I wasnt abused as a child, but as a newborn I spent 14 days isolated in an oxygen tent. It was an event Ill never be able to remember, but the impact of those two weeks have persisted my whole life.
So now, for the first time in my life, its time for me to give her a name she deserves.
Thank you very much for your thought provoking post. Funny enough I just read a book, by Dr. Dan Siegel called "Mindsight", which deals with a lot of what you talked about. Especially what happens to the brain when it doesn't receive those "coochie coochie lovey dovey" signals as an infant.
On a lighter note, at the beginning of your ride report, you had mentioned something about the unexpected way your 1199 could, and I quote, "make panties wet"! Soooooo...I believe we haven't heard any more about that since the first page In other words.... any luck with the ladies yet?!
I like what you've come up with there, it rings pretty true for me. I also spent a lot of time in the hospital after being born 2 months early, in a small town in the mid '60s. I don't think the term "Children's Hospital" was in the lexicon yet.
Just a couple of thoughts:
I've always loved "high-risk" driving, riding ( bikes, motorcycles, 4 wheelers etc.) I've had people ask sometimes if I got scared during some event, a race or a stunt, whatever. They are usually surprised when I tell them it is just the opposite.
I wore my heart rate monitor once during a spirited ride, it stayed lower than the logs I've taken while at work sitting at my desk...
On naming, I never felt right naming a car, bike, gun etc. I think it is because of the becoming one thing. When I'm really in the groove, I really don't distinguish between myself and "it". It would be like naming my hand.
The closest thing my bike has to name is when I refer to it as the Joy Inducing Mechanism.
Dynamic Duo: Man and Machine = Brilliant
I'm not worthy of commenting on your writing. All that I can comment is that it is brilliant. It made me cry.
I, too, was an oxygen tent baby.
Every motorcycle I've had a relationship with, I ALWAYS referred to as 'her'! Unless you're numb inside, it's a 'relationship' and when I'm on 'her' we are communicating!
Thanks, Bill, but no thanks.
Absolutely fascinating essay.
Ah--and I failed to mention that searching--the physical process of searching--also plays a role in regulating our physiology (and mice and other mammals). The need to wander is a biological one, which explains why so many motorcycle rides are just that--rides with no particular destination in mind. The journey itself satisfies a hunger we don't understand.
I never knew there were so many bubble boys!!!
I am not one but I am really enjoying the RR and can relate. Coincidently my current bike is the first one I have ever named!!!
I agree with you, and also it seems to me that in order to be true to oneself one has to know oneself. I'm thinking that riding can bring on or help to bring on the sort of state of mind that helps you get in touch deep down in some cases. There are also bound to be folks who are already there and for them the riding is less revelatory, or perhaps revealing in a different way.
Check this book:
Bodies in Motion: Evolution and Experience in Motorcycling.
Steve starts well, lines up several good arguments, and when you think he has the story ready for some conclusion he never goes there and instead gets lost on motor vibrations... (you will get the vibrations thing when you read it). I actually like that he does not offer a ready made conclusion, because inadvertently perhaps, he lets me think about his arguments and reach my own conclusions.
I'm also drafting a couple of ideas about why I ride. Not quite at a sophisticated level, though.
Why would anyone want to name a Penigale, Hillary Clinton, kinda opposites , when I think of Hillary I think of the quote, "Where boners go to die"..............jusayin