Gloves? For Sissies!

Wait…Why do I wear gloves?

NOW I REMEMBER.

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The Direction of Why

Yes. Folks get a little clich├ęd when they address that age old question of “Why do you ride?” Yes. Often it is an exercise in futility and pseudo-philosophy. Let’s face it: ask “Why do you ride and you’ll often get a steaming pile of attempts to explain it. I, here and now, offer my favorite response:

“Don’t ask. I can’t tell.”

Right now I think riding is an either or proposition. Either you get it or I’m wasting our time trying to explain it to you. You is or you ain’t. Ask me tomorrow and I’ll probably think differently… Rather than dwell on the unexplainable, esoteric appeal of riding I would prefer to address why we ask why, the question does have a direction; it can be directed in or directed out. Direction is important because we ask others “why” to learn about the activity, we ask ourselves “why” when our hearts are troubled; the classic “Why am I doing this?” can strike you in any endeavor. It is a question asked in search of an intrinsic answer, we are questioning ourselves and our own motivations.

An inward Why is an early warning that we could be burned out. Likewise, it may signal that we’ve entered a new phase in our lives and are reevaluating our risk/reward calculation. Asking ourselves Why occasionally is a good, healthy exercise; introspection can help us refine or change behaviors. There is a catch here and that’s when we take an internal Why and turn it into an external Why. This is something you encounter in riders as they grapple with the risk/reward calculation. Imagine you’re a rider and you’re twenty-eight, your wife is expecting and you just had a close call–it’s pretty natural to rethink your behaviors.

The Why that I’ve been noticing lately is a little different, it’s more…plaintive? It almost comes across as a “convince me”. It’s not “why do we do this” it’s more “convince me to keep doing this.” I am not sure that makes sense outside my own head but I also read the context the question is asked in. Lately I have run into a patch of Why surrounded by a puddle of accidents and mayhem. “X died in a gruesome accident–is it worth the risk? Why do we ride?” Seems not a common question but, one that still gets asked. Is it a symptom of burnout or apprehension? Maybe our mortality is no longer hiding from us and, in response to its standing in plain sight , we are reacting to our new understanding of our frail nature.

Often this outward tuned Why seems to be a question seeking confirmation. The person making the query is looking for someone to validate a decision they have probably already made. The desire is to find someone else to push them out or pull them back. Nothing wrong with that but you’d be better off just pulling the trigger and owning the decision yourself. Remember, this is that Why that’s really demanding, “Just give me a reason punk!”