I am riding a piece of road that I know quite well, actually exceptionally well, to the point of having, in my mind, given names to every single corner: nice weather, good surface, adequate motorcycle and total focus on …riding with the system.

The ride is smooth and progressive.

Strange: I found the same itinerary full of difficulties a few days ago and made several mistakes. I am the same person on the same road on the same bike, but… now I realise. I was driving home to answer a difficult situation; my mind and sentiments were not on the ride.

SENTIMENT, says the dictionary, is an attitude, a thought, or a judgment prompted by feeling. The same dictionary goes on with concepts such as “delicate sensibility, emotional idealism, romantic or nostalgic sentimentality, idea coloured by emotion.” An unfavourable evaluation of “sentiment” is evident here, quite common in a culture that only recognises what is demonstrable or proven by science as an element of knowledge.

We often perceive “sentiment” as a personal feeling that can influence the mood, the emotion, the feeling, but it cannot in any form interfere with knowledge. But my ride with a distracting sentiment proves differently. Anything that can touch a person, that enters the area of knowledge of the person, that occupies the brain, generates an inevitable reaction that is as strong as the humanity of the person: the more sensitive one is to human values, the stronger will be the change of awareness, the impact on the reason. The sentiments toward any object of our knowledge modify such entity’s value for us. For example, if I love horses, I will be interested and attracted by any reference to the animal; any element of knowledge in this area will have great value, necessary and worth the effort.

In the same line of thinking, the statement “I am the Best” is not a presumptuous, superior statement but a way to animate the sentiment toward excellence in any area in which we apply our intelligence and effort. Just saying “I am the Best” impacts our mind, creating a sentiment that commits all our forces and resources toward achieving this unreachable goal.

In this way, “sentiment” is an essential element in the process of knowledge and our search for a knowledgeable form of motorcycling.  We need to be aware of our sentiments and be able to evaluate them, positioning each one in the proper order: it is an ethical process required to incorporate “sentiment” into the process of knowledge, where it belongs.

Without the proper position, “sentiment” may turn into a negative subject of knowledge. Only passion, respect for human values, and dedication to something bigger than ourselves allow us to place each sentiment in the right place. Compassion for humans, capacity to pardon, the virtue of forgiveness are, in my opinion, the fundamental blocks that allow the placing in order of all sentiments.

Forgiveness of others and of ourselves is the capacity to maintain unity in the mind and focus on improving.  Returning, for example, to the mistakes that I mentioned at the opening of this article, it is crucial to consider how I react to errors and whether I take them as obstacles or as elements for evaluation in moving toward excellence.

It all depends on how I forgive myself for my mistakes: only forgiveness allows me to consider them correctly. Without forgiveness, we try to hide our mistakes without learning from them.

How forgiveness of others impacts our knowledge is quite evident: lack of forgiveness is at the origin of every separation, fight and every war. The inability to exercise forgiveness brings in all of us tumultuous sentiments that confuse the brain and generate separation: separation from the destiny of my friend, my neighbour, and my people. Forgiveness places sentiment in the proper position as engine of the process of knowledge.

By Paolo Volpara

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