by Liz Jansen
Nowhere are distractions more potentially perilous than while you’re operating your motorcycle. Fail to deal with them and you’re likely to find yourself losing control and having an accident.
The many demands on your time and personal resources seem crucial, but if you take a step back and look at them in the grand scheme of things, they suddenly lose their urgency. Over time, directing energy to something that’s off-course can drain you, making you less effective for those things you’ve decided are important.
The same distractions that put you at risk on your motorcycle also jeopardize your chances of reaching your goals in life.
- Blinding light. This becomes a real hazard to riders, particularly in autumn, when the sun is low in the sky. Wear polarized sunglasses or use a polarized visor. The life equivalent is allowing yourself to be bedazzled by another’s achievements or challenges. Don’t let them throw you off-track.
- Activity in other vehicles. Most bikes sit higher than cars, and the rider can get quite an education by seeing what’s going on inside them. While it’s vital to anticipate the driver’s actions, fascinating as it may be, avoid focusing on activities that are not going to affect you.
- Visual distractions. You find yourself in a traffic jam because rubberneckers are curious about something that happened in another lane, going a different direction, and on the other side of a barrier. It’s just as easy to get sidetracked like this in life by something that catches your eye. It slows you down, influences those around you, and puts you at risk of not making your destination.
- Daydreaming. Riding along on a beautiful day can lull you into complacency and send your mind wandering. Your brain state drifts from beta alertness to alpha relaxation—not a good thing when you’re operating a motorcycle. While there’s no question of the Zen quality of riding, you still need to remain attentive. Whether on your bike or your life’s Road, persistent difficulty maintaining focus means it’s time for a rest.
- Looking for directions. While trying to find an address, you also need to wipe the rain from your visor, slow down, watch for traffic, observe stop lights, avoid potholes, look at road signs, navigate around streetcar tracks, and keep an eye out for jaywalkers. It’s tricky to do while maintaining balance, avoiding the wrath of other drivers, and keeping yourself from becoming tense and crashing into something. If you know you’re going into a busy time with lots of demands on your time and personal resources, the more you can plan and prepare, the easier it will be to reach your destination safely.
- Scenery. Becoming immersed in nature while riding through forests, across plains, or along the ocean is a highlight of riding. It’s when I feel the most connected to Spirit. But I’m still a mortal being, and I need to watch the road. Tending to body as well as soul keeps you balanced, healthy, and joyful.
- Physical condition. Pain and discomfort are signals your body sends off indicating that something is amiss and needs attention. That attention comes at the expense of what you’re trying to accomplish. Whether you’re on your bike or your Road, this distraction means it’s time to take a break and tend to other priorities before proceeding.
- Poor-fitting gear. You wear gear to protect yourself from weather, flying objects of all sizes, and the road. Armor (padding) needs to end up in the right position should it be called into action. One size does not fit all, and whatever you wear must be right for the situation. Gear that is too tight, too loose, or just plain doesn’t work makes you uncomfortable, contributes to fatigue, and isn’t going to give you the protection you need. If you’re to be of service to others, your first priority is in caring for yourself and your unique needs, not wearing something that was meant for someone else.
- Noise. Whether it’s a radio turned up loud, iPods, loud bikes, or two-way radios, all that noise is sensory input your mind has to process. This is in addition to all the other inputs you have to deal with. Avoid taking on too much, keep things simple, and stay focused. No matter which road you’re on, simplifying keeps you relaxed, alert, and in a better frame of mind when you arrive.
- Pleasing others. If the sole reason you learn to ride a motorcycle is to please others, or if you ride beyond your skill level to keep up with others, you’re risking your safety. Do things because they’re right for you, not to please others. Often those can be the same thing, but what distinguishes the empowering from the energy-draining is the intent.
It’s easy for buzz to distract you. It attracts your attention and your energy, but has no bearing on where you’re going. Avoid letting distractions lure you away from your purpose. Awareness is the first step to a safer ride.
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