Each time I read or hear people refer to riding a motorcycle as “wind therapy” I roll my eyes. Sure, somewhat for the unforgivable corniness (and I’ve got plenty of dad jokes), but it’s more than that.
The thing I find irritating is that we have to brand something as “therapy” in order to legitimize enjoying it. We’re so caught up in both branding and preposterous guilt for enjoying the moments of our lives spent not working that we have justify the simple act of riding a motorcycle as “therapy.” It reminds me of the idea of food as medicine. Sure, some foods have a healing component, but are we really so far from simply enjoying a dish for its own sake that we have to call it medicine to legitimize its existence on our plates?
I think having so much close technological access to working all the time plays into this. The moments when we’re not on our devices doing some sort of work, when our eyes are watching the curving road, hands busy throttling and braking, feet shifting and leaning, we’re too otherwise absorbed to possibly be working. And for this respite from work, to be in our own heads with our own thoughts, to be providing no financial benefit to anyone (except to the gas and tire and motorcycle companies…) we have to explain away our own enjoyment as “wind therapy.”
In the Midwest, two things we do a lot of is working and apologizing. Beginning a sentence with, “Oh, I’m sorry…” is commonplace. Our culture teaches us to be life-long martyrs for our work and therefore we must apologize for the moments when we’re not working. Calling it therapy is half apology and half hail mary claim that it’s necessary for our health. Nearly every act a person engages in that is enjoyable and not somehow detrimental is therapeutic. We don’t need to brand having a life outside of work as therapy.
I enjoy skimming the surface in a canoe, ice skating in lieu of cross country ski snow, riding motorcycles and mountain bikes – plenty of activities. Being active is good for my body and brain and soul and I don’t think that makes me unique. I enjoy plenty of sitting still activities too, like writing and reading and sitting in my chair in the dark and thinking, sometimes with jazz on the record player. Bowhunting will always be sitting in the woods listening to birds and hoping to spot a deer. I enjoy those acts simply for being alive and capable enough to do them. Sure, sitting in the woods with your own thoughts can have a healing effect. But I’m not going to start calling the moments I’m simply enjoying my time being alive “therapy.” I just call that having my own life and not being at work all the time – for which none of us should need the justification of a brand or a hashtag or an apology.