Hindsight might be 20/20; but it’s far safer to have good foresight.
Earlier this winter, I was riding to work, on my regular commute down I240. I was well into the corner at Malfunction Junction when I noticed that the traffic was stopping ahead of me. I had to get on the brakes hard. My back tire went into a skid. Not a fun feeling in a corner at 60 MPH!
It reinforced an old saying among bikers: “Look through the corner.” Pilots have a similar saying: “Never let the airplane get out in front of you.”
Whatever you are doing, it’s a lot smarter to be looking (and thinking) way out in front. It’s called Situational Awareness. When I’m in traffic, I try to watch 6-8 cars ahead of me, at least. I know that when number 8, way out in front of me, slams on his brakes, everyone behind him is going to do the same, one after the other. There’s no good reason to be caught by surprise, and no good reason to be rear-ended because I surprised the guy behind me. Been there, done that. It’s no fun.
It’s a smart concept in day-to-day living as well.
I changed careers quite a few years ago. I started noticing all the “old” guys I was working with. Grouchy old curmugeons. Bleeding ulcers. Alcoholics. Divorced. It was a real eye opener. It was a way of looking a long way down the road that I was on. I decided I had to get onto a different road. If I did the same things they had done, I was likely to end up where they were. I’ve never looked back.
Who wants to be the guy who loses his house or his car, because he can’t make the payments? Who wants to retire and discover that he has to go back to work, because he doesn’t have enough to live on?
Nobody plans to have an accident. Nobody plans to crash and burn, either literally or figuratively.
Safety isn’t an accident. Accidents happen, but by and large, situational awareness can keep you from crashing and burning–whether you’re driving a motorcycle or choosing a career.
And looking a long way down the road can make dreams come true. Ever dream about the kind of person you’d like to marry your granddaughter? My parents did.
My parents had a dream about the kind of home their grandchildren and great-grandchildren would grow up in.
How do you control something like that? You look a long way down the road. You start out by deciding what kind of home your children grow up in, and by making choices about who your children hang out with. We spent all summer in Bible camps. We drove hundreds of miles to attend Christian Youth retreats. We attended a Christian high school and most of us went to a Christian college.
My parents invested thousands of dollars to influence who we married. The Christian college and Christian high school weren’t primarily for the kind of education we got, but because of the kind of people we were going to hang out with. They were playing the odds, looking a long way down the road.
How did they do? I married a girl I met–at the age of 12–at a Bible camp. Almost all of my brothers and sisters married someone they met at school. And–go figure–most of the grandkids are marrying someone they met at a Christian college. Nobody in the family has been divorced. We’ve been through rocky times, but it appears, by and large, that my parents achieved their dream.
Always look through the corner. Never let your motorcycle get out in front of you. Look a long way down the road.