Above is a current work of art in progress. It is my 1996 Triumph Thunderbird. Against my better judgement I purchased it at the end of last summer and it’s been one of the best mistakes I could make. It’s difficult to explain the way it makes me feel when it’s running well. I almost feel guilty that a material possession could bring me so much joy. Just before the end of October last year one of the carburetors gummed up and left me stranded. When I discovered the problem I knew that I couldn’t just take it to a mechanic to fix. It was something I had to at least try to do myself so that I could understand what makes it tick. This is part of the lesson that I learned from Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Before we get too carried away here, it’s important to note that this book is not about motorcycle maintenance and not about Zen Buddhism either. It is a philosophical inquiry into Quality, a problem the narrator first encountered as a professor and continues to examine during a 17-day motorcycle trip with his son, Chris. Continue reading