Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lessons In Minimalism

  As I write this I am sitting on the shore of the Lower Lake in Kananaskis with my partner watching the water, the mountains, and the clouds moving across the sky. I love to watch as the jagged mountain peaks as they seem to pierce the clouds and tear them into jagged edged pieces. Our camp site behind us is little more then a tent, a couple of sleeping bags, a couple of fold up chairs, and some cooking supplies. The sites around us are occupied with trailers of all shapes and sizes, RV s larger then buses, a few tents, and everything in between.

   It is amusing to hear different peoples view of “roughing it.” More then a few have commented on our meagre accoutrements but travelling by motorbike has been, if nothing else, a lesson in minimalism. It is truly amazing just how little we need to get by from day to day when we put our minds to it. We spend so much of our lives and resources gathering and acquiring and storing “things” then working for the space to store those things only to fill it up and find we need more space.

   Never was this so obvious to me as it was earlier this summer when two of us set out on one motorbike for an almost 5000 kilometre journey (3000 miles for those not on the metric system). Saddle bags and a tail bag was our total allotment of space for almost two weeks of travel. At the end of that trip there was never a point that we went without. Well that is not completely true as we went without all of the nic nacs and junk we would have bought at each stop to remember our stay there since we didn't have room to carry it (which eased up on our trip budget!). We had to do a load of laundry on the road and wash a few other thing in the hotel sinks but it was a stark contract to the loads of laundry we would have generated at home and an eye opener to just how many of those gadgets we could do without.

  Our week long trips to the Kananaskis have required using our small bike trailer. By the time you put in the tent, sleeping bags, cooking supplies, and food, it is pretty much full. A lot of room is freed up just not having to bring along our electronic gadgets like laptops and phones and power supplies since we camp where there is no power or cell phone service. The thing is if you don't have them you don’t really miss them. There is so much...Life... to occupy your time.

   Travelling like this by bike reminds me of a trip I took when I was young. My friend, his father, and his grandfather took a couple of canoes deep into Algonquin Park and we carried with us only what we could carry on our backs at portages. There were few times I found myself so at peace and at one with the world around me. I suppose that is one of the reasons I enjoy my motorbike so much – the similarity between my bike and a canoe.

   I know some of you think that is a stretch but if you think about it there are many similarities;
  • A motorbike exposes you the the environment around you – so does a canoe.
  • A motorbike is at the whim of the environment around you – so is a canoe.
  • A motorbike limits what you can travel with – so does a canoe.
  • A motorbike requires your constant attention to your surroundings – so does a canoe.
  • A motorbike lets you see more, smell more, and interact with more – so does a canoe.
  • A motorbike makes you part of the world around you – so does a canoe.

   These trips have been an exercise in minimalism and all the more pleasant because of that. If you want to know what you really can or can not do without then take a long trip on a motorcycle – the truth shall set you free


Ride your bike like you live your life -
No final destination in mind
Just take as long as you can to get there
and enjoy and learn from each moment of that journey!


1 comment:

  1. This is a wonderful way to look at the beauty of motorbike riding. What a lot of non-riders don’t really see about riding is that even though a lot of people ride in groups, it’s still very much a personal and individual activity. You, yourself, are driving the bike, and you are the one experiencing the speed, the wind, and the scenery. Because the motorbike is smaller than a car, you are basically forced to stay simple. Furthermore, it’s always good to take a few moments out of life to step away from the bigger and more major possessions, and live only with what you need.