Yes, it is too hot for slow riding and, yes, that rider in front of you is too slow to be in the same group and, yes, your bike is overpowered for this kind of roads and, yes my bike has not enough charisma to discuss about when stopping and, yes, this road is too straight for your leaning skills and yes, this circuit is too short for my desire of  speed and yes, this trainer is too stupid to teach me anything and yes, there are too many corners for a cold day and for my leaning skills (not to mention sexual deprivations, tires, brakes, electronic wizardry, seat softness and food on the road).

I was listening to the after-ride chats of bikers and I was, once more, considering how reality, in reality, does not exists. Impressions and Illusions are the makers of what we call the real world.

Most of the comments were open signs of “I am not here because I do not know how to be here”.

Example? The best one is the best compliment received for the choice of road: “It is such a splendid place – told me one dreaming rider – such good combination of nature and corners, such an ideal biking itinerary that I want to come back here someday” I had to control myself not to force the rider to recognize that he was already HERE.

We’re living in a world that contributes in a major way to mental fragmentation, disintegration, distraction, de-coherence” says B. Alan Wallace and we must recognize that he got it right.

To be right Mr. Wallace repeatedly uses the suffixes “de/dis” used in Latin to signify separation, apartness, break of unity. Our mind always moves on a linear progressive and regressive imaginative, not existent and hallucinating line of time, wandering between what we have done (past) and what we will do (future): meandering on what we would like to do instead of living the moment we are into.

Splendid ride on the south of France, just miles from the coast on the curvy roads of the Alpes de Haute Provence: a riding day from Grasse to Serres. Here the major attraction (great corners and stunning scenery) are the Gorges du Verdon. As I stop on route D952, in one of the balconies suspended over the grandiose chasm I cannot avoid the companion’s comment “It looks like the Grand Canyon”.  No, it does not and if he did it I would like to enjoy what I have now (Gorges du Verdon) and not think or dream about something on the past or on the future (Grand Canyon-Colorado river-Arizona-USA).

I would like to live this moment over the Verdon without losing the unity with this splendid nature but it is impossible to cut out the description that my friend started to make of the solemnity of the Grand USA. I exercise Aurelian restrain and I try to live in two parallel lives (Verdon-Colorado). My friend cannot control what he says because he cannot control what he thinks and where he is. If you look carefully you can almost see it: he is not HERE.

He (or she, or me) is lost in an ideal world (that happened yesterday or the will happen tomorrow) where the climate is temperate, the bike perfectly tuned, the tires new, the corner of constant radius, the asphalt billiard-gripping, and the style of riding is a mix Brad Pitt style and “Cairossi aggressiveness” (Antonio Cairoli motocross world champion and Valentino Rossi legend, served cold, shaken not stirred)

Because we are not HERE & NOW we talk, forgetting that when we talk less, we see more. If we manage to control the mind and think about the NOW and the HERE all the references to past experiences and past knowledge will disappear: “Once you recognize that you don’t know the things you’ve always taken for granted, you set out of the house quite differently. It becomes an adventure in noticing and the more you notice, the more you see.”

Outside the small circle of bikers everybody agree that “LIVING IN THE NOW” is the thing to do to reduce stress, to boost immune functioning, to reduce chronic pain, to lower blood pressure and the risk of heart diseases. Living HERE and NOW makes people happier, more exuberant, more empathetic, more secure, with higher self-esteem; the panegyric goes as far as promising better sexual life and more money in the bank.

Obviously all this is an exaggeration or an illusion or both. The new age sellers of “LIVING IN THE NOW” dreams are not themselves living HERE and NOW and necessarily project their minds to the future bank account statements after credulous sleepers buy pills, oils, incense, lights, sounds and books designed to make all of us living HERE and NOW, tomorrow.

Bikers tend to be more cynic, down to ground, connected to it just by the two small patches of tyres contact: we want to know “HOW” without going through hits of the Google Yahoo university. My suggestion (free of pills, oils, incense, lights, sounds and books) is grounded of what NOT-TO-DO or, if you prefer, on replacing bad habits with healthy ones.

The first step is to exercise a living without illusion: H. H. Diltey call it “realistic self evaluation” and place it as first commandment for the positive rider. What if… we extend this concept outside of biking and what if… we start operating a realistic self evaluation of all we do: are we really so good in riding, in parenting, in friendship, in expressing love and in making love, in commanding and obeying, in leading and following? Are we?

Another exercise or game could be eliminating complains and exercising acceptance.

Hot weather under the 41st parallel (the one of Istanbul, Peking, Salonika, Napoli, Madrid and New York) is to be expected in July and August… a BMW GS would be better suited off road than a Honda CBR 1000… without gravel on the side of the road life on two wheels would be less exciting. What if … we extend the acceptance of the veteran traveler to our personal life and what if… we start accepting our partner “as it is”, our job as a window open to creative opportunities, the grey raining days as an invitation to look inside and enjoy it, the lack of material surplus as a space of simplicity, the person different as a teacher?

Final exercise could be the acceptance of Dante’s invitation “state contenti umana gente al quia” ( Mortals, remain contented at what it is) so unusual in a society obliged to grow and fanatic in accumulating.

What if… instead of admiring the plenty of riches&famous we start considering the joy of wellbeing, what if… instead of working for the new bike we learn to use the old one we have, what if… we stop considering life as a race and we start racing for real joy?

Probably the diabalon, the separation between what we are and what we do, will reduce and the economic crisis instead of a CNN show will finally get the real significance: imagining ourselves and our careers as a stock exchange gambling, a forced economical growth at the expanses of others a way to accumulate what unfortunately defines us: the diabalon, the idol of labels, credit cards, cars and bikes, masters and number of LinkedIn.

What if… instead of Bora Bora we start dreaming about our back garden?  The  cartoon from The New Yorker sums it nothing-happens


By Paolo Volpara

"Si sta come d'autunno sugli alberi le foglie"

6 thoughts on “Then you can’t go there if you are not here.”
  1. Hi, this is a comment.
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  2. Dear Paolo,

    I enjoyed the article. The only question is How old you were when you understand to live NOW & HERE ?

    Deniz Bıyıkoğlu
    with love..

    1. Umm .
      I wonder if you learn The Here and Now ?
      Is it that we have The Here and Now and somehow as Life takes over we Unlearn it.

      1. The concept of “now” must be very clear and well defined. It is not a shout for “carpe diem” since i believe we were not designed to live the “now”. See my thoughts in blog at the note “The Now and The Fear. A feeling of anticipation”
        Beside… there is a great gap between learning and applying. Only cvommitment, consistency and discipline can fill the gap together with a continued self-criticism. Ciao

    2. It was in my teen’s years when I learned the value of “now” and start developing the idea within a Christian education and the studying of Stoic philosophy.
      Applying what you know or what you lerned is a different story… and, furthermore, the concept of “now” must be very clear and well defined. It is not a shout for “carpe diem” since i believe we were not designed to live the “now”. See my thoughts in blog at the note “The Now and The Fear. A feeling of anticipation” Ciao

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