Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (heretofore known as Zen) was a favorite book of mine through my late university early adult life. I had my metaphysical guru hippy Namaste phase of life. Didn’t we all? No we didn’t I know. I have a friend who’s never once questioned their staunch Republican outlook. It seems kind of one dimensional to me but they are content and peaceful where I am not, so who am I to say? Thing is it appears that I’m phasing back toward that youthful outlook while also slowly morphing into the grumpy old woman in my housecoat on my porch shaking my fists at the kids to keep off the lawn. It’s weird duality.
Did you know that that Pirsig (the author of Zen) received a mind baffling 126 rejections for his manuscript? The tenacity of him, at that point I wouldn’t even have submitted to my grandmother but he did, and he got the yes. He never thought it would sell which makes you wonder why he persevered through that many rejections but sell it did, remaining on the best seller lists for decades.
The irony? Zen is a tome about the differences in people, the romantic and the practical – the one who loves the way they look on a motorcycle, loves the way it makes them feel as they drive across country surrounded by nature’s splendor and the one who loves what it does, the mechanics, the curiosity behind why its engine is knocking as they drive up into the mountains. He’s manically obsessed with the idea of quality and what we put out into the universe. How good is it? And though it sounds like he leans toward the latter practical model that he presents, the truth is (and by the end of the book you know) he is actually searching, striving for that middle place where romanticism meets practicality.
That’s an elusive goal and people can go and do go ‘crazy’ striving for it. Writing romance is as far from practical as it could be, or is it? I aim to place my words together in a pleasing way, to make them lyrical and compelling, to weave a tangible story of interest and intrigue. Isn’t this the formula for any writing? And aren’t we all a little mad for the romantic efforts of our ideas and the drudgery of the work necessary to make them something worthy? And aren’t we all guilty of wanting the romantic best seller title and bored of the practical toil that will get us there?
I think we are. Today as I wear my many hats and you wear yours – it’s good to know that Zen exists in the forgiveness we can give ourselves and each other for having not yet achieved that difficult goal of enlightenment, balance between the romantic and the practical.
Strive on. Namaste.