Sunday, November 4, 2012

Biker Wisdom

Motorcyclists are cautioned about a phenomenon known as target fixation. When confronted by a potential hazard~~a dead skunk in the roadway or a rock wall rising beside an unusually sharp curve~~the tendency is to focus directly on the obstacle. In his book Total Control, riding instructor Lee Parks explains that, since “where you look is where you go,” this natural tendency has often caused riders “to run right into whatever it was they were looking at.”
The same is true in life. As I fixate on a perceived slight or major worry, that focus claims me. My energy flows toward whatever I give awareness to.
Does this mean we ignore all disturbances and blithely travel down the roadways of our lives? Of course not. After a quick burst of what Parks calls spotlight vision  to determine our best response, he urges us to expand our view to a floodlight vision which “illuminates a larger area with less intensity,” and returns us to a fuller perspective.
If I fixate on financial difficulties, for example, my vision narrows. I not only lose touch with the many joys that abound, but my upset can blind me to alternative avenues for improving my position. A flexible approach is wiser. Taking clear stock of my situation, I then focus, not on the problem itself, but on the path around the problem. As I do what’s mine to do~~no more, no less~~I am freed to return to floodlight vision, thus remembering myself into a larger context.
Zeroing in on difficulties removes me from a felt experience of life in its fullness. The blue of the sky is lost and the simple perfection of a given moment passes without my conscious awareness and participation. Parks asserts that, “the farther ahead you look in a turn, the better off you will be.” Translated into our terms, this encourages us to respond appropriately while keeping ourselves attuned to that which is eternal and unchanging. It’s not that we don’t focus. It’s that we focus wisely and flexibly.
On a related note, the movie I Am shares some of the latest research on democratic decision~making among grazing animals in the wild. The choice of which watering hole to visit and when is not always made by the alphas of the herd, as was originally assumed. As thirst grows, animals gradually stop grazing and begin pointing their noses in the direction of their preferred pool. The location with the most “votes” wins.
An interesting phenomenon to consider at election time. We can allow our focus to be consumed by hate and fear mongering~~skunks in the roadway for sure~~or we can hold to a truer vision. Spiritual teachings assert that we are intricately connected, and urge us to nurture our capacity for love while tempering our tendency toward self~interest.

During this election, let’s point our noses in the direction of interconnection and shared responsibility for our children, one another and the earth itself. As we hold to this larger vision, whether in politics or our personal lives, we’ll be less likely to hit dead skunks head~on or run off the road entirely.

Joyous riding, ya'll!

Loanne Marie