In Robert Pirsig’s book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a father and his son begin a long motorcycle journey accompanied by a married couple. Part of the story involves the father trying to re-establish his relationship with his pre-teen son. As the story evolves he cannot understand why his son does feel the same experiences he is as they ride. Towards the end he realizes that his son, riding as a passenger on the motorcycle, can turn his head to the right and left, but to look forward, the natural position, he sees only his father’s back and head. He is shielded from the wind, the experience and from sight. His father has him stand on the pedals as they ride. Unshielded and standing, the son becomes the experience, the ride and alive.
Sometimes the situations of life call for us to be like the bow of a ship and plow head long into the experience, like the driver of a motorcycle. We absorb the wind and the force. We also become the experience, and we change the direction of the wind, we are the wind moving. Unlike the TV screen windows of a car, we plow through the waves or ride the motorcycle as nature, force and power, no longer casual remote viewers watching all pass us by.
Other times the situation or others drive. We hold on and can only turn our heads to the right or left and we cannot see what is before us. We become as remote and detached as a viewer of TV. And yet, Life offers pedals. We can stand and become the experience. We can stand unshielded, even as a passenger not driving or controlling the situation. We can rise and stand. We can withstand. We can see. No longer remote we know what it is to feel and see. The experience is ours. As is the choice.
There are no passengers in Life. We have only chosen not to stand on the pedals.