Thursday Thoughts: Robert Pirsig

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one of the top few books that has shaped my thinking. My life. I read it first when I was 16 or 17 and have read it every couple years or so since. It’s rich each time. Pirsig tells you it isn’t really about Zen or motorcycle maintenance. It’s about existence and living. The story itself is really interesting in its own right. The main character, kinda, is a professor for a time at Montana State in Bozeman where we’re headed, Lord willing, this July. But the philosophy is why I keep coming back. Enjoy chewing on these words this Thursday.

“Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you’re no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow.

But of course, without the top you can’t have any sides. It’s the top that define the sides. So on we go… we have a long way… no hurry… just one step after the next with a little Chautauqua for entertainment. … Mental reflection is so much more interesting than TV it’s a shame more people don’t switch over to it. They probably think what they hear is unimportant but it never is.”

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