Day 7: Continued; Chadron, Nebraska’s Hadron Collider, Favorite Bar and Bean Broker Coffeehouse and Pub

After 258 miles I decided to stop for the night in Chadron, Nebraska. It had been a strange day. All of the miles were on Highway 20 so at least I didn’t get lost. Farms, fields, and ranches. I saw a man on horseback leading a horse with supplies, and he was carrying an American flag. I saw trees in the fields that reminded me of Fairy Thorns in Ireland; isolated trees in a field which are the entry points to the underworld for Leprechauns.
In Chadron I found one of my usual stopping places, a motel with a number in it. 6, 8, 9. I went for a walk around the town, the main street.
I almost never do travel reports because I’m not good at them. But here goes a brief one.
On the main street there were signs in all the windows explaining the history and architecture of the buildings. Incredible detail. Here’s an example: “Hotel Chadron/ YMCA 115 Main Street. This three-story structure features a metal cornice at the parapet. The windows have segmented arches and limestone sills…” It goes on and on. Someone with a lot of heart and knowledge took the time to research this.
Wikipedia mentions some history for Chadron: “During the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Chadron was the starting point of the 1,000-mile “Chadron-Chicago Cowboy Horse Race.” Nine riders competed for the $1,000 prize to be the first to reach the entrance of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Among the riders was the former outlaw Doc Middleton. John Berry won the race in 13 days and 16 hours.” Apparently, it was the longest horse race ever in the USA.
I spotted a place on main street called: The Favorite Bar, and I went in. Draft beer, a Boulevard, went for $1.50. Happy Hour prices! Regular price was $2. Great biker bar. A beer garden. Folks in cowboy hats. Nebraska banners on the walls along with lit and unlit beer signs. Plastic buck with antlers on the wall, signed dollars above the bar, pickled eggs, almond nuts in a bubble gum machine, beef jerky. Music floated through the place: Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. Plus the saddest song I’ve ever heard: “He stopped Loving Her Today.”
There was a small crowd, maybe 10, and folks chatted with me and made suggestions for my trip. “Don’t pay to see Mount Rushmore just see it from the road.” They mentioned a nearby coffee house and so I had to visit there.
The Bean Broker Coffeehouse and Pub was completely different. Gourmet coffee shop on one side and a pub on the other. Old furniture, sofas, carpets, wood fire stove, John Coltrane playing on the stereo, chandeliers, different shaped mirrors on the walls, games and puzzles stacked on a shelf. Only a few folks there, surfing on the internet. Small selection of craft beer, mainly New Belgium and Sam Adams. Chatted with the owner and her cousin. “You have to go in and see Mount Rushmore. Go to Sturgis and Deadwood and travel around the badlands. Skip Wounded Knee; it’s so depressing.”
Chadron was a very friendly place. A great town. I almost hate to leave. But I’ve got a daughter and son to go see in California! And miles to go before I’m finished.

Day 7: Brief Philosophical Reflections. Feel free to skip!

You’ve already seen examples in this blog of some of the weird things I think about. Here are a few more.
Most of the time I try to stay in my senses when I’m riding.  The Zen thing – “Lose your mind and come to your senses.” But yesterday I came upon some notes I’d taken. I think they are from a James Hollis book.
Sometimes when I’m riding I meditate on things. I’ve got to go 235 miles on highway 20 today so I have plenty of time to think. These are the lines I’ve been thinking about.
“What is demanded that we may live life more fully? What does the psyche (soul) ask of me? The souls asks for 4 attitudes or practices from us.
1. Read the world around us with a spiritual eye.
2. Do our private work of personal growth.
3. Recall that our life is not a place but a journey, not an answer but a question.
4. Bless this fragile life just as we find it and be grateful for it: no matter what the suffering, the senselessness and the angst, there is always the soul and the self.”

From my journey to your journey – Namaste!( “I bow to the divine in you.”)

From a coffee shop in Valentine, Nebraska!

Some Concluding Thoughts, for Now. What I learned from the Ride.

Some Concluding Thoughts, for Now. What I learned from the Ride.

“The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called yourself.”

Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

 In Tao of the Ride, Garri Garripoli writes: The Ride is the metaphor I use in this book for how we move through our life…For me, the Ride is best played out on a motorcycle. It speaks to every aspect of how I see life in that poetic way – the need for balance, confronting your mortality, accelerating, breaking, refueling, tune-ups, repairs, accidents, accepting passengers and so forth. The bike becomes a mirror that reflects the whole of my life.

I like Garripoli’s quote (and his book). Here are some  of my conclusions about my ride.

Look where you want to go. When you’re are on a motorcycle you need to be focusing not immediately in front of you, but instead looking in the direction you want the bike to go. The bike will go where you’re looking. If you get fixated on some hazard in the road, or that your bike is heading off the road and you are worried about a wall or a ditch and you stare at them, that’s called object fixation. Staring at them you’re more likely to hit them. As in life, you have to not get too hung up on difficulties in your path, but instead, have a vision of where you want to go. Proverbs says: “Where there is no vision the people perish.” Lots of times in life we get stuck focusing on the problem that is making us unhappy and forget about the things that do make us happy. Let’s head toward them.

Don’t worry about what you’ve already driven through, or become preoccupied with what’s coming up that you can’t yet see. This is part of staying in the present. Having an awareness and mindfulness of what’s happening around you, what your senses are telling you. If we focus too much on the past, which we can’t change, we’re daydreaming and not paying attention. Similarly, if we worry about the future too much we can miss important things that are happening in this moment. And this moment, this day, is the only one we have. We have to present to win. This links in with the Zen concept of mushin no shin which means “the mind without mind”. Jeff said a similar thing to me when he mentioned that when he was riding it was like he had no mind. Mushin happens when the mind is not preoccupied with thoughts or emotions and thus is open to the present, to what is happening now. It’s similar to the flow that artists experience in very creative moments. You don’t rely on your thinking but on your training and intuition.

Stay calm and breathe. It’s so important not to over-anticipate and overreact to things. I’m still working on this as I tend to tense up a lot, with a rough road or wild winds. If I see a bump ahead, or debris in the road I would often tense up in anticipation. Instead, I need to look and see what my options are. This illustrates the constant lane awareness you have to have. If I can shift in my lane or change lanes to miss the obstacle then I need to stay calm, look where I want to go and make the subtle movements to go there.  The last two days of my ride I felt this happening more with me. I wasn’t always trying to plan my lane position for curves, I would catch myself tensing up and I’d relax. Toward the end of the ride I was feeling more and more the flow and energy of the bike and the Ride.

The Taoists have a useful concept called wu wei. Essentially it translates as effortless action. It means to flow with the situation rather than trying to force things. Resistance is futile! Find the energy and go with it. This works effectively with difficult Harley Davidson service managers or challenging folks at work. And the principle can be seen in the actions of dancers, artists, musicians who have relaxed into their artistry, trust it and follow it. You can also see this with motorcyclists in how they manage a curve in the road. They might manhandle the bike, bank it with force, grip the handlebars extremely tightly (like I have so often done) or they relax into the curve, sense the bike and the road, look where they want to go, feel the flow and balance, and manage it all gracefully with wu wei, effortless effort.

This leads into the next bit of knowledge I gleaned: Lean into the Curve. I’ve written about this already. I even bought a Harley shirt in Victorville, California, where I was getting my Harley repaired, and the shirt says: “When Life Throws you a Curve, Lean into it.” Don’t fight it, or become fixated on it, or try to overpower it; just trust that you can go into it, through it and survive. You will make it through it and come out safely the other side.

Silence is healing and holy. We are bombarded with noise all the time. The radio, the television, music we listen to. When do we actively engage with silence? Elijah, Jesus and Mohammed journeyed into the desert so they could more clearly hear the voice of God. Buddhist, Christians and others meditate in silence.  Quakers worship in silence. Psalm 46 says: Be still and know that I am God. When are we ever “still”?

Even with the loud hum of the V-Twin Harley engine on my Road King, most of the time I felt as if I was in silence. The sound was a hymn that was being written as I rode.

Love the Ride. Be grateful. This was my ride but we’re all on the Ride, our life’s journey.

The eighteenth-century Christian writer Jean-Pierre De Caussade wrote “The present moment holds infinite riches beyond your wildest dreams …The will of God is manifest in each moment, an immense ocean which only the heart fathoms insofar as it overflows with faith, trust and love.”

I know my life works better when I express gratitude for what I have and show loving kindness and compassion towards others, beginning with myself. I tried to do this as much as possible on the the ride.

I hope you enjoyed riding along. Thanks for reading and following us.

I’ll conclude with a quote from one of my favorite writers.

Homecoming is the goal, but our home is not out there, a geographic place, the protective other, or a comforting theology or psychology. Homecoming means returning to a relationship with the Self, a relationship that was there in the beginning, but from which we necessarily strayed in our obligatory adaptations to the explicit and implicit demands of family, tribe and culture. Homecoming means healing, means integration of the split off parts of the soul, means redeeming the dignity and high purpose of our soul’s journey. When we are here to live our soul’s journey, we can spontaneously be generous to others, for we have much to give from our inner abundance; we can draw and maintain boundaries, for we have learned the difference between their journey and ours; and we can sort through different value clashes because we have found a personal authority that helps us discern what is authentic for us. In short, we have recovered a relationship to the soul (psyche) from which we lost contact, but that nonetheless continues to hum beneath the surface of our lives and never, ever loses contact with us.”

James Hollis, What Matters Most