Most of us understand that living life for ourselves is important. As a man, this includes doing things that are unrelated to wife, kids, work and family and having hobbies or activities that improve us as men or feed into the masculine undercurrent that exists in our subconscious. It’s no surprise that videogames such as Call of Duty and Elderscrolls Skyrim are so popular with men young and old. They feed into the brain that you are battling and living a virtual life that feed neurological risk areas. Scientific American did an article (not free) on this and the impacts associated with it. Other’s have discussed behavior changes from violent games, but that’s not where I’m going here.
I think men, by their very nature, have a need to engage in behaviors that are risky. Since we aren’t hunting mastodons anymore, or engaging (typically) in hand to hand combat, the need to feel alive is met by other activities. In some cases, they directly impact the improvement of ourselves, in others, they are just risky behavior that may be enjoyable. We have a tendency to drive to fast, do dumb things (Darwin Awards are mostly men) and pick riskier hobbies. I’ve done about five or six skydives, have driven way too fast for HOURS in my shitty beater car in college and even driven drunk (again, this occurred once or twice when I was about 21).
Since maturing, my risky behavior has dropped to considerably. I still engage in bicycling, which is still somewhat risky since people drive like morons. My excitement fix comes in participating in regular semi-competition in Crossfit type environments and running races occasionally. It’s sort of dumb, but nearly any “WOD” as they call it (workout of the day) be it in a group environment or just with myself, I still get a little nervous since we’re pushing boundaries and competing. And the bigger area or regional competitions or races, you definitely feel the nerves. It’s good for us to compete, and this particular hobby has a direct impact on how I look and feel.
What brought on this particular post though was a recent incident that occurred about 300 yards from my house. We could hear the sirens of police, ambulance and fire all stop right around the corner from us. Through the trees, we could make out the emergency responders dealing with some situation, though we didn’t know what. It turns out that a motorcycle with a man driver and woman passenger didn’t make the corner into our residential development, jumped the curb and smashed up the block and brick entrance sign into our neighborhood. From what I heard, the woman was somehow trapped under the bike and/or rubble and the firemen had to dislodge this before they could take her away in the ambulance. I believe the man was taken away in a squad car, whether to go to the hospital or for driving drunk (that corner he crashed on is a low speed one, so unless he hit gravel he was either driving too fast or made a majorly poor decision).
I think having a motorcycle would be pretty awesome. I’ve gone over 50 mph on some bicycle descents and it’s a fun time, would be even more fun going faster (on a motorcycle) I think. Motorcycles still have some sort of bad-boy risky image though more middle aged guys are buying one since they have the dough and the desire to do something exciting. Despite my desire to buy one, Holly has shut that down hard due to the risks involved, which I can appreciate. An old saying in biking (be it pedal bike or motor-bike) is that it’s not a matter of IF you’ll crash, but when. I’ve gone down on the bike a few different times, and since they weren’t vehicle collisions, the worst was a bent wheel, torn shorts and jersey and some road rash. The speeds of a motorcycle make it much more likely injuries are going to be worse no matter if a vehicle is involved or not. Even if you are safe, other drivers won’t be.
If I was a single guy, I would probably have a motorcycle at this point. The risk vs. reward would be probably be such that any ramifications wouldn’t have repercussions that would greatly impact others’ lives. As a married dude with a couple of kids who are relying on me for so much, my risk tolerance (and my wife’s assessment of risk) has gone way down. I’m even more cautious or cognisant of the risk involved with pedal biking now. I can get my stress/fun fix through competitions and occasional controlled manly hobbies such as BJJ, shooting ranges and rare paintball excursions mimicking actual dangerous situations. And really, while I think Holly may not exactly get tingles from my hobbies, I don’t really care. I stay in good shape, bond with men through my hobbies and get away from the house creating just a little space that does carry over to our marriage. More importantly, the risks are more tolerable for me and my family.