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Ride Your Ride: Biker’s Lesson in Fighting The Comparison Syndrome

Finding peace and happiness in the midst of our own life's journey

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You can tell much about a person by looking at their bike
You can tell much about a person by looking at their bike

“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt

When I was on a temporary assignment to the southeastern pacific, I was provided the opportunity to purchase a Harley Davidson motorcycle that would be built to my preference and waiting for me when I returned home to the United States. Never would I have imagined a culture that only fellow motorcyclists know, feel, and experience. One aspect that riding a Harley has developed is the way I drive. Although I have grown to become a much more safer and defensive driver since my teenage and young adult years, riding a motorcycle gave me the ability to have more awareness on the road and in my physical environment. The thought that I keep when riding is the thought that “everyone on the road is trying to kill me”. Now I know that seems somewhat extreme, but it puts me in a mindset of double checking my lane changes, consistent 360 degree scanning, and looking for potential hazards on the road. This type of mindset can be translated into the workings of our daily lives and development.

With my years and experience, riding has become therapeutic. During the times of relaxed riding and the ability to let my mind become unfocused from constant hazards in proximity, I started to connect riding terminology with my personal story of this journey called life. In Neuro-Linguistic Programming, the use of metaphors is a good way to connect someone’s personal thoughts, feelings, and beliefs to an outsider’s view.

Bike Based on Rider’s Current Level

Some people want to go hard and fast right away. Many people like to think they are capable of more than they can chew. In a way, that is true. People are far more capable than they think, but as far as getting to where we want to be, slow smooth and steady is the key. There is an Amish saying, “A fence that goes up fast, comes down fast.” No one appreciates that progression and the journey anymore. With fast pace world of insta-(insert any word here), we want things now. We want better circumstances now. We want a better life now. Many times, when I take more than what I can handle, it ends up hurting me or my progression. The bike I chose as my first bike was a Harley Sportster 1200 XL Custom. Great all-around bike for all levels. In fact, I still have it. Harleys are one of those bikes that is hard to choose one that is “too much” to handle. It is more based on the body composition of a person. Though that still applies to what I am saying: pick a bike that is based on where you are currently at.

Sometimes we are persuaded to pick a “bike” that is not suited for us. We persuade ourselves to pick something, do something because we compare ourselves to other people. We see other people being successful in what they are doing. So we go out trying to do that same thing. Or we pick a “bike” that is considered “smaller”, “weaker”, or “regular” and we are afraid of judgement. But why not pick something that you can enjoy? Why not pick something that you know is right for you and your current situation? We get caught up in being too worried about what other people may think. Pick your “ride” that is suitable to you and go for it. Pick your own journey. It will potentially save much pain down the road.

Speed

Every October, my friends and I take a trip to an event called the Kernville Kampout. Motorcycle company Biltwell reserves a whole camping lot for one weekend. Motorcyclists and clubs take a trip in their bikes and we all just hang out for the weekend. It is quite a sight to see hundreds of bikes and tents in a central location.

On our way during our trip to the 2018 Kernville Kampout, the road split into a one lane highway through a canyon. My friend who has a faster bike and a better suspension decided to take off. I was confident in my skills that I decided to keep up with him. His bike was too fast and handled turns much better so I could not stay right with him. But I insisted in my head to keep at the current speed; just as long as I have friend in my view. On one of the turns to the right, I started on the outside of the turn (middle lane divider) and started to accelerate through the turn (just as we are taught to do). But then the sight of a big-rig truck appearing from the blind spot of the turn freaked me out a little, so I lost focus through the turn. I almost lost control and barely made the turn just barely far enough from the wheels of the big-rig truck. Thankfully the road was clear of sand and dirt that I did not lose grip of the road. That was a potential accident that could have been fatal. My friend from behind caught my “almost accident” on camera. After that near death experience, I did not want to die so I made the decision to ride at the speed I was more comfortable at and just took an easy ride through our final destination.

Sometimes, we want to go the speed of everyone else around us. Maybe you are at my age of early 30’s and start to see your friends married, they all have kids, they all own a home, or whatever it is that 30 year old’s are “supposed to have”. Or maybe you have a business that is taking longer to produce big profit that you have seen your fellow peers able to produce. But who cares. Why do you have to be where everyone else is? Who made that rule? As long as you stay moving forward, slow and steady finishes the race too.

Building Up the Confidence

Can you remember anything that you do and do well that did not take practice? Some less practice than others? Even for skills and talents that we are innately born with, we improve because of the consistency of repetition. I did not have the vision to be a motorcycle racer, but it was the regular mundane rides to and from work, to and from school, with the occasional scenic route that improved my riding skills. In fact, I would ride around my neighborhoods streets to start. When I first got my bike delivered and took my first ride, going over 40 miles per hour felt like the scariest thing in my life. My mind and body was not used to that feeling. But it was the gradual increase of speed, comfort of riding the local streets, and moving up to the highway that developed my skills appropriately for me. For some people, they may have been able to go 0–100 on their first day. And that is OK. That is not my ride and that is not how I build up my confidence.

Maybe there are aspirations that you have that you want to be able to do. Many it is writing a book, maybe it is speaking to tens of thousands of people, or maybe it is simply taking up a hobby that you never thought you could do. Build up to it. Want to write a book? Write some blogs first. Get some feedback from an audience. Want to do a speaking engagement? Speak in front of a mirror. Record yourself. Get feedback. Building up the skills we need in order to do the bigger things is the slow and steady journey. But it is the best way to build a foundation for the long haul. Just remember to get feedback because that outside perspective is what will make you better.

Final Thoughts

When we got to the campsite, I told my friend who I was trying to keep up with about how I almost died. His words, “ride your ride” is the one thing that I will always remember of every camp out we do from then on. It literally has probably saved my life countless times after that. Same thing applies to life — what “ride your ride” means to me is to not be so consumed with what ever everyone else is doing and how well they seem to be. My journey is my story and no one else’s. It is up to me to make it as interesting as possible and to keep moving forward not matter what challenges that I come across.

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