Springlike weather was forecast for last Tuesday, it was probably the last semi-warm day until April. With that in mind I rode my motorcycle to the morning class I teach in Shelburne, my plan was to take a nice ride to Burlington afterward. When class ended I headed up Route 7 toward Burlington. The sun felt so great that I couldn’t help myself
and I kept riding and riding and riding…soon I found myself in Eden, Vermont. Which, if you aren’t familiar with Eden, really is like Eden, and also a couple hours north of Burlington. I decided to head back toward Burlington and on the way found myself at the Loving Cup Cafe in Johnson, Vermont.
I parked my bike right in front, got a drink and sat on the porch. I was really feeling proud of myself, and had the subtle intention that maybe someone at the cafe would connect the cool bike with the cool guy sitting on the porch, and from this somehow I’d profit from this strangers thoughts (yes..this is embarrassing). Soon, I hit the jackpot. A couple of young kids rode up on their BMX bicycles and sat on the porch at the table next to me.
Instantly I started making up stories about them in my mind. How they liked their little bicycles but I’m sure they would much rather have a fancy motorcycle like mine. And about how they viewed me as some cool guy riding his cool motorcycle. Basically creating scenarios in my mind in order to somehow build myself up.
Finally when it was time for me to head out, I was putting on by coat and standing by my bike and the kids came off the porch and came over to talk to me. I was thinking they’d ask about my riding experience, how many miles I put in, what a cool jacket I had. Instead, the older kid who was probably around 18, said, “How many CCs is that?”
“Cool. My dad rides a lot. He has a bunch of Harleys.”
(This isn’t going as I thought it would.)
“Well, that’s cool.”
“Yup, I’ve been riding since I was 4. I’ve won a bunch of regional dirt bike races.”
(I’m such an idiot.)
“Good for you.”
“This is my little brother. He’s been riding since he was 3. He’s 12 now and just won the Northeast dirt bike championships.”
(I’m a complete idiot.)
“Wow…really good for you guys. That’s actually pretty awesome.”
“See you around mister.”
(I guess I’m the lucky one that got to talk to you.)
“Take care you guys.”…as I rode off completely humbled.
Yup, there are a number of lessons here, I admit it. The one I took away is about how negative thoughts and judgements aren’t the best, and really don’t serve anyone or anything.
It brings to mind one of the Yoga Sutras for Patanjali, Chapter 2, Sutra 33: “When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite positive ones should be thought of.”
I realized in retrospect that I had started down this somewhat silly, negative thought process about these kids I knew nothing about, as a way to make me feel somehow better about myself and my life. Even though it seems like it can be a good idea, nothing good can come of it. The real good came when the kids talked to me and were open about who they were. They didn’t seem to have any judgement of me at all – they just figured I ride, so do they. Cool kids.
So, I’ve been practicing. It’s actually been amazing how often I catch myself going down a path of a negative thought…and…more importantly, how empowering it is to catch myself and turn it around. It feels great! So, try it. Let me know how it goes. From my experience, I guarantee it’s more beneficial than the alternative.