How a Loud Motorbike made me feel Useless

crashed motorbike bike cycle wreck ruinWell, if you’re reading this the title must have hooked you. You’re thinking ‘what wordplay is this? How can a loud motorbike make anyone feel useless? Well in truth the motorbike was circumstantial, this can happen to me at anytime and has with any number of objects, smells, sounds. I’m not entirely sure of its origin, there’s a fair whack of rumination OCD in there, and certainly some low self-esteem, but the actual reason is still guesswork.

The below happens to me several times a week, and sometimes if I’m tired or upset, several times a day. But this isn’t a woe-is-me post, I wouldn’t want to as there are people out there in this big old wide world with more to deal with than this.

That said, I still want to show you how in just five steps, I can feel useless just from seeing a motorbike. I’ll do this by telling you a story…

It all started with someone riding a motorbike. I was walking towards the bus stop after work, when a motorbike sped past me. I don’t know much about motorbikes, but it didn’t look overly expensive or flashy. There was nothing to draw my attention towards this bike other than the fact that it was making enough noise to be heard over whichever Queens of the Stone Age song I happened to be listening to at the time, but that was all that my mind needed as a hook, a hook that started the whole thing off, taking me to stage 1.

Stage 1: The Negative Spark

This negative spark is a quick flash of negative emotion (anger, sadness etc.) springing from nowhere. In this case the negative spark was annoyance. This annoyance was completely internal and would not have shown on my face, nor in my actions. Nevertheless, I was irritated at this guy on the bike. Pointlessly irritated, as he was not breaking any laws, he was not acting dangerous or aggressively towards me. Although this was only flash-irritation that rarely lasts more than a few seconds, it was potent enough for me to move on to stage two.

Stage 2: The Plot

In this brief state of irritation, I had a thought along the lines of “He’s going too fast”, briefly confusing volume with speed, “what if he loses control of his bike?” With a clear mind I wouldn’t want him to lose control of his bike that would be harsh to the point of evil. Though, in my mind and right at the pinnacle of the flash-annoyance I certainly thought it. My mind had everything it needed, heightened emotions, and a plot I can build on.

Stage 3: Imagery

In stage three my imagination really goes to town. The one thought I had about the motorbike crashing now gets fully padded out. It gets a full sound overhaul, and a few special-effects complete with mindless, gut-wrenching violence.

This drama would not be possible without someone playing the lead role, the principle actor, ably played by… myself, of course. As this actor I watched everything happen. I imagined myself standing, still as the carnage took place; the bike screeching across the road, and crossing my path, finally slamming at horrendous speed into the wall.

In reality, everything continued as normal, the motorbike disappeared into the distance, I continued to walk home, pushing the button to wait and cross the road but my mind was still there. I was now too involved in the thought to escape quite so easily.

Stage 4: Over-analysis

This is where everything starts to become all about me. Back in my imagination, I knew I had to do something. I couldn’t just walk away from an injured person; I had to do something it was up to me. My mind was racing, with so many thoughts…

  • “Should I remove his helmet? No his neck could be injured raise his visor.”
  • “Ring an ambulance.”
  • “What do I do while I wait?”
  • “Should I take my coat off to keep him warm? No he’s in full leathers he’ll be warm enough.”
  • Etc.
  • Etc.

In my mind I was answering as many questions as I was raising but I was still dithering, and not doing anything to help him. This man as going to die because I wasn’t doing anything to help him.

Stage 5: Back to Reality

With its job done, I no longer needed the imagery. I snapped back to reality and into the final stage. I’d been walking for several minutes now on auto-pilot, but now I was back and the imagined high-tension situation had affected me almost as much as the real one would have done. My heart was thumping, and I almost felt sick with the nervous feeling in my stomach and I felt guilty for thinking, even momentarily that I wanted the motorbike rider to be hurt just for making noise. The big kick in the mind-balls was that I now felt completely useless; useless because I knew that I had done nothing to help the injured man. I had done nothing but think. I had done nothing of any real value.

There you have it, that’s how a loud motorbike made me feel useless. Luckily, or unluckily depending on your point of view, these types of thoughts aren’t new to me. Though it is only over the past few years that I have begun to recognise them for what they are, thoughts. That’s it.

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