Saturday, 21 January 2012

On Irony and Inevitability (and Motorcycles)

I only just discovered that it's worthwhile to go back and read your own postings. It's interesting to go back and look at thoughts you've had in the past through the lens of more recent experiences. I consider myself a connoisseur of irony and when that irony originates with oneself..., well, how ironic is that?

If you're reading this then you probably follow me on some level and know that I took up motorcycling a couple of years ago. And you may also be aware that I had an accident last October. It was totally my fault, no one to blame but myself. Yes, it was painful but thanks to family, friends, co-workers, a couple of good Samaritans and some wonderful healthcare workers I think everything is going to be fine. I'm back at work and resuming normal activities. I've been riding an indoor bicycle trainer for a couple of months and was recently given the go ahead to start running. Thus far it's all been on a treadmill and an indoor track but it feels great. In this case my "Final Frontier" will be getting back in the swimming pool. I hope to do that in the coming days. Stay tuned.

When I took up motorcycling several people shared the following wisdom: :"There are two kinds of motorcyclists. Those who have had an accident and those who are about to". It appears I have joined the first group.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that even those of you who are reading and are not motorcyclists may have heard this piece of wisdom before but in relation to some other pursuit. Regular readers (both of you?) may recall that I used to fly sailplanes. The very same adage is passed on to virtually all pilots. Those who have had an accident and those who will. [As it happens, I did have one but that's beside the point. You may draw your own conclusion regarding my skills and judgement].

So why does any rational human being with a life and responsibilities choose to indulge in any activity where an accident and the possibility of personal injury - or worse - is inevitable? Is it simply a question of the reward outweighing the risk? I really don't believe so. I don't think motorcyclists or pilots or skiers or bicyclists or scuba divers or rock climbers really believe it will happen to them. Sure, we've heard all the stories and seen the statistics. But in our own minds we believe we "know" how to mitigate those risks. We "know" that the victims of accidents had some flaw or made some error that was foreseeable but proceeded to make anyway. We have no such flaws and we "know" not to make these errors and the inevitable thus no longer is. In both of my cases I made the errors, had the accidents and suffered the consequences.

So will I now become another spokesperson for the "Those who will and those who are about to" philosophy? No. I think that would be arrogant on my part. My motorcycle and sailplane accidents were the result of me doing things my training told me not to do. They were totally avoidable. What I will tell novice motorcyclists (and only when they ask me) is that this is a pursuit that is unforgiving of errors. Safety demands constant vigilance. Nothing can be taken for granted.  Apparently in this case I did not learn from the mistakes of others. This is a costly lesson to learn and I don't intend to take it lightly.

Next time I post I hope to give some thoughts on my quest to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. Here is where I left off ... I shall read every bit today!!! :)