The Zen of Leaning

I was first exposed to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when I was in my early 20s. The Chairman of the Board crooned

love like youth is wasted on the young

and I think that ZAMM might also be wasted on the young. I can tell you for sure that it was wasted on me oh those mumble-mumble years ago.

Why was it wasted on me? The primary reason is that I think I was simply burned out on allegorical learning. Although I wouldn’t trade my liberal arts education for anything (I have a BA in Computer Science, not a BS – go figure), I wasn’t that far out of school when I read ZAMM, and my brain was much more in “geek mode”, if you will.

But two things have happened that brought me back to the book. First, I now have a gaggle more gray hair and children of my own. As Pirsig writes early on in the book:

At age eleven you don’t get very impressed with red-winged blackbirds. You have to get older for that.

Second, I now ride and wrench my own motorcycle.

I had a mentally-draining day today. Lots of stuff going on. Almost uniformly good stuff, but lots of it. I was pretty stressed as I pulled into my driveway this evening. I opened the garage door to see my bike with its rear end in a dozen pieces strewn across the floor (my own doing). The weather forecast for tomorrow is looking yummy, so on a lark I decided I’d put her back together, minus the part I’ve been waiting interminably on. Forty-five or so minutes later, with nary a cuss-word issued, my bike was whole and idling, and I was a new man. Stress gone. Mind clear.

Get thee to a motorcycle dealer, folks! There really is something to this…

[With many thanks to Brad and Dave for exposing me to Pirsig in the first place!]

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