posted by Hakan Erman
Summer is the perfect time to give biking a break. It is too hot and humid for putting on any protection. Roads, destinations, hotels, mechanics are way too crowded and you are guaranteed to be a victim of tourism industry in one way or another.
So we went to a beach, not to avoid crowds but to relax and at least get rid of our clothes. It was past noon time, getting a little too hot and plunge intervals were reduced to 20 minutes. It turns out we are not the only ones preferring beach going to biking: we ran into some rider couple from the past. Motorcycle community is for real and even when you see a rider you hardly have memories together there is still a connection. We needed to do some catching up and imaginary tyre kicking, so I asked the appropriate question: “are you still riding?”.
To my amazement, by just asking that one question, we were able to learn number and names of countries and Alp passes covered, brand, model, year and properties of current motorcycle, type, colour, cost and rainproof properties of jacket, pants, technical underwear (brand matched to bike), bike’s last date of replacement, usual replacement period, next replacement date and reason of delay (new engine type expectancy), preferred speeds on the road and daily range (fast / very long), other people’s reactions to these, profession of self and wife, social circle, home location, garden size, other interests…
All this took some time and then he stopped talking when he reached a point where it felt like he was running low on ammunition. He probably kept a few more in reserve for the next round of talk but decided it was now the time for him to ask THE question: “What do you do?”
This must be a sure nominee for the “questions of the century” and I’ve always found it tricky… it push me think about all tI have been doing in life.
However, the question and the curiosity behind is more about status, how and how much. It was as if the stage was given to me to explain my fortunes.
Feeling that I was invited to a game which I did not want to play, I gave the shortest reply possible and let the conversation die. I had an available excuse: it was hot and time for our next plunge.
This encounter stayed with me well after that day. Why did I feel that a game was played? What was it about? Why was I such a killjoy playing it?
I think it can suitably be called The Envy Game. The way to play it is that I expose you my fortunes and you “like” them verbally or with a thumbs up/love symbol. In return, you do the same to receive your own share of envy. Some exaggeration is allowed. Happy gaming.
Happy? I found out that this is where my problem with this game lies.
I know that people are not really interested or profoundly happy hearing about my fortunes. Listening about a perfect-looking life and describing yours that way is acting, tiring and anything but elating.
Yet it is so common. Most people these days know exactly how to pose for a happy, cheerful, sexy or bike’n me selfie, frame and edit the shot, which exhilarating filters, words, emojis to use and at what time to post it for best exposure. All this is followed by counting the number of likes and comments. Envy me, promise I will envy you!
We seem to have forgotten how envy actually sets us apart, while we are craving for sincerity. The way for sincerity is, however, not that but to be ready to share our humility, difficulties, doubts, weaknesses and our search for meaning.