On Value

1993 Yamaha Virago 535, La Vigorosa

What about the drug lords and the armed gangs? What about them? I reply. And the banditos – aren’t you afraid of the banditos? Of course, I reply. And on a motorcycle and alone! Dangerous, I reply. Then why do it? Because I can’t not. When you tell your friends and your family that you plan to travel through Mexico, alone no less, and on a motorcycle, something like the above conversation is what almost invariably ensues. If you don’t immediately understand why one would want to take a motorcycle trip, alone, free, and through unknown lands, then nothing I can say, no explaining, will enlighten you. You don’t see it and that’s fine. But to you who understands the allure, to you whose heart races at the thought of it, to you who loves the idea but fears the doing of it, read on, comrade! Heed what I have to say! We are all seeking Value in our lives.

We are taught that our lives have an intrinsic value. But value and Value are not the same. Value – the latter of the two – has to do with finding the path to a flourishing, to a fulfilling life. Some read books about how to find that path, some attend seminars, and some go to church. But no one can lead another to that path, not really anyway. It is a personal thing, the most personal of things. Only, maybe one can point another in a direction and maybe it will be a good direction or maybe it will not be. I don’t have the answers for anyone. I don’t have them for myself. Only I have some ideas and they help me. I find Value in my life by what I have done and, in particular, by how much it scared me to do it. Rock climbing, boxing, now motorcycling. Knowing you can do a thing and then doing it is nothing; it’s the not knowing and then the doing it or the trying to do it and failing – there is Value. Breaking your fears or facing them honestly and truly and them breaking you and then you getting back on your feet, dusting yourself off and facing them again – the Reckoning – there is Value. And having faced them, your fears, and having won or having lived to face them again, there is the growth, the expansion of what you once were to what you now are – there also is Value. Of course, it is not necessary to be a daredevil, I am certainly not, but I can face my fears one at a time and in my own way. That’s what I think anyway, but, of course, I’m not certain of anything. This has been my thinking for the past ten years but ask me again in another ten and perhaps I’ll have thrown it out and stumbled onto something new. Anyway, maybe it’s the search for how to obtain Value that actually bestows it. It sounds silly, I suppose, but no more so than anything else I have said or heard. What I do know with certainty is only this: I like the way it feels to do a thing that is hard to do or scary or both, and, having done it, I don’t like to spend much time guffawing about it, only to breath in deeply the air, sweat and crisp and scented from the success, permit an inward smile because the triumph is mine alone and no one else’s, and then begin planning for the next project. So now on to a motorcycle trip into Latin America.

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