Whate’er its mission, the soft breeze can come
To none more grateful than to me; escaped
From the vast city, where I long had pined
A discontented sojourner: now free…
Writing in Tucumcari, New Mexico, now and reflecting on Day 2. My first stop yesterday was at the Harley Dealer in Toad Suck, Arkansas. Just had to buy a tee shirt with the name on it! There was a beautiful, misty blue sky in the morning. Black eyed susans and glossy golden buttercups on the roadside, along with blue and purple flowers. There were blooming mimosa’s with their pink ballerina flowers. Rivers were full and high, lowlands flooded. I saw a 35 mph sign up to its neck in brown water. Folks out on their boat fishing.
There were so many drivers passing me or crossing into my lane talking on the phone or texting. Don’t do this folks. It’s really dangerous and you can wait. Stay in the present. Enjoy where you are. Cultivate silence instead.
Blaise Pascal said in 1654:
All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.
Consider this from PRI
A new study found people are terrible at sitting alone with their thoughts. How about you?
July 19, 2014 · 5:00 PM EDT
By Adam Wernick
“A recent study in the journal Science found that many people choose to self-administer an electrical shock rather than sit quietly in a room alone with their thoughts. It was conducted by
Erin Westgate, a PhD student in psychology at the University of Virginia,
The researchers brought people into their lab and told them they were going to be asked to sit alone in an empty room for ten to twenty minutes. They took everything away from them — cell phones, watches, iPods, whatever. Next, they showed the participants some random pictures. Finally, they pointed out a nearby button, which, when pressed, would give them an electrical shock.
Westgate says they had each participant press the button, “just for practice,” and then asked them how unpleasant it was and whether they’d pay money not to be shocked again. The participants said the shock was unpleasant and, yes, they would pay money to avoid being shocked again.
The researchers then asked the test subjects to sit and entertain themselves with their own thoughts for ten to twenty minutes. There were only two rules: they weren’t allowed to get out of the chair and they couldn’t fall asleep. They encouraged the participants to enjoy themselves with pleasant thoughts. And oh, yes: if you’d like to receive an electric shock again, go ahead and press the button.
Westgate says the research team had debated this aspect of the study. It was ridiculous, some thought, to think that people would choose to shock themselves. They were astounded by the results.
“They’d already told us they didn’t like the shock. They’d already told us they’d pay not to receive a shock again,” says Westgate, with bemusement. “So we weren’t really expecting that people would do that. But at the end of the study, we found that about 70 percent of the men and 25 percent of the women chose to shock themselves during that twelve minutes, instead of just sitting there and entertaining themselves with their thoughts.”
“Now the big question is, ‘Why would someone do this?’” she says. “Why is it so hard to entertain ourselves with our thoughts that we’re willing to turn to almost anything, it seems, to avoid it?””
So how about you?
Not everyone riding a motorcycle rides in silence. We’ve heard the loud stereos booming. Some can use their phones or talk to their passengers through a system in their helmets. I just prefer the silence.
It was a beautiful, care free ride until I hit Oklahoma City when I-40 went from three lanes to one. Road construction, though there was no one around constructing the road. So it sat deconstructed. Stop and go traffic. For a biker that means: pull the clutch and shift into first, drive a few yards, shift into neutral and coast until you get to the stopped car in front of you. Put your foot down and wait. Repeat and repeat and repeat. The experience is even more enhanced by having a hot engine between your legs. Further down two other lanes from other highways merged into ours, slowing us even more.
At dusk I finally made it to Amarillo but couldn’t find my motel. It took me about 15 minutes of circling around, hitting a deep pothole and worrying I’d busted the tire, until I found the place. Cheap but nice enough. $36 including tax. I gave thanks for having enjoyed and survived the ride. I climbed into the bed and enjoyed the silence. And fell asleep.