David Perell

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

David Perell
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

This autobiography is about a motorcycle road-trip that Robert Pirsig, the author, took with his son. Two stories interweave throughout the book: a retelling of the road trip, and the philosophical questions that’ve persisted through Pirsig's life. The insights come from Pirsig’s relationship with motorcycles and what it takes to maintain them. 

He explains that there are two kinds of personalities, both of which Pirsig appreciates: people who have romantic viewpoints and focus on living in the moment, and people with analytical viewpoints who want to know every detail, and prize rationality.  Pirsig questions the role that technology plays in our lives, providing answers that go beyond conventional analysis. 

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is filled with powerful life takeaways, each with a unique spin: the importance of enjoying the journey, the importance of presence, what you miss when you stick to the plan. If there’s anything this book does well, is it thinks about things a level or two deeper than normal — Pirsig focuses on underlying systems, not causes. I plan on reading this book again later in life. 

“To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow.”

“We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone.”

Thanks to Joe Norman for the recommendation.