I recently bought a 2009 BMW G650GS motorcycle. It’s awesome! I never thought I’d own a motorcycle, and definitely not a BMW. But, my son has got me excited about motorcycles, so we concocted this idea of him, my wife and me all having BMWs and traveling the country together in the Summer of 2015 after he graduates from college. First, before we go travel the country, we figured it’s best if we practice how to ride. My previous experience of two-wheel transport was many years on a bicycle (in my mid-20s my brother and I took a month-long trip on bicycles from Wyoming to Florida), and more recently a couple summers with a 125cc scooter. Because I actually have quite a bit experience with getting from here to there on two wheels, I had a lot of confidence when I bought the bike that I would be a quick study and it would be relatively “easy to learn”.
With that in mind, last week I was in Burlington to pick up my wife and go for a ride somewhere on my bike. We’ve taken a few rides together and it’s been great, so we were excited to take another. Before I picked her up I had switched the seat I was using to try out how it felt. It was a bit more slippery for me (100% leather). Her part of the seat was much higher and further back than the seat I had on previously, but that didn’t seem to matter. At the pick-up site I parked the bike, got off, and my wife and I talked about where we wanted to go. We decided to go back the way I came and head up to Northern Vermont – awesome! So, I get back on the bike and start it, and she gets on the back seat. We have an arrangement where she taps my helmet when she’s ready to go, and she does that. Then I start to accelerate the bike and it’s immediately uncomfortable. I realize (in hindsight) that the seat completely changed the feel of the bike when there is a passenger. I am able to steady the bike and start to turn around heading back up the street. As I make the turn I realize I’m not going fast enough and the bike starts to fall over, so instinctively I give it more gas to help right the bike. We instantly start doing a wheelie, heading across the street toward a restaurant!!
At this point I remember thinking, “How is this happening!!” Amazingly, the front tire settles back down to the pavement. The disappointingly frightening part is by that point we have reached a driveway and I’m headed straight toward the restaurant. I am able to slow the bike, and we ultimately smash into a lattice fence that is between the restaurant and the sidewalk. Big parts of the front of the bike broke off, the headlight holder was broken…but we both miraculously didn’t get hurt at all, the bike staying upright through the whole experience.
Well, I was devastated. I spent the next couple days reliving the incident, and the next couple of nights not being able to sleep thinking about why it happened, and how I could have prevented it. I even had thoughts (though fleeting) that I should just give up the whole motorcycle thing. Mainly I realized that what I felt was like an idiot for it happening in the first place – I thought I should have known how to prevent it.
But, then I realized that I just made a mistake. At the time I really didn’t know enough about motorcycles to prevent that from happening. Sure, I have had experience riding a bicycle and a scooter, and now I recognize that riding a motorcycle isn’t that — it’s a completely different thing. So…I’ve started over with humility. I recognize that I know what I know about motorcycles, and there will always be more to know. I’m sure there will be many times in my riding experience where I look back and think, “if only I knew then what I know now,” but you only know what you know. I see that the point is to recognize there is a lot to learn in life, and to keep an open mind about learning. It does no good to beat yourself up about what you don’t know, all you can do is start today and recognize you are where you are, and that’s ok.
That’s true with riding a motorcycle, and it’s true with your yoga practice as well. It’s easy to look at your practice and feel like you should know more, or feel like an idiot because you hurt yourself doing some posture and you should “know better.” But, it just doesn’t feel very good to do that to yourself. Instead, t invite you to learn from my experience, try not to beat yourself up about your mistakes or lack of knowledge, be accepting of where you are at, stay curious, and do the best with what we know. I can absolutely guarantee that’s a much healthier option than the alternative. Happy Travels!