Confessions of a Techie

Going on the ride of your life.

Ride Of Your Life, Book Foreword (Sneak Peek)

A Coast to Coast Journey to Inner Peace

Three years ago my life was supposed to be perfect. On the professional front I was a success story: a veteran of an elite technology unit in the Israeli army, recruited by the world’s largest private research lab, then turned hi-tech startup entrepreneur. On the personal front: happily married, three great kids, and a house in the suburbs. On the surface, I was living both the American dream and all that I have personally wished for.

Life was supposed to be perfect, but it wasn’t.

Under the surface, daily life was comprised of a cautious walk between raindrops of emails, calls, meetings, and carpools. An attempt to stay dry in a torrent of enslaving, often meaningless obligations. The past accomplishments had come at the cost of invisible strings that tied me down. Decisions, big or small, were now dictated by the needs of my career and my family: work on the weekend, wake up for Sunday school, buy a house in a good school district, drive a minivan. Life was an infinite conveyer belt of tasks and constraints.

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Motorcycles and inner peace, with Deepak Chopra
Motorcycles and inner peace, with Deepak Chopra

But as hard as it was to be busy, it was scarier to be free. In the rare times I could decide where to go or what to do, I had no idea what I wanted. Yes, I wanted to spend time with my kids and with my wife, but beyond my identity as a husband and father I didn’t really know who I was anymore. Underneath the layers of being a scientist, a musician, engineer, or businessman my soul was hiding from me in a silent void.

Like all stories of personal transformation, it all began with a faint nagging ache that gradually grew into a pain. The inevitable feeling that something was seriously missing and had to be retrieved. Nights of reflection turned into weeks, and weeks into months, and at some point things came to a boil. When they did, a suppressed childhood dream surfaced from the emotional chaos: I want to be a biker. I want to be on the open road, gripping chromed, raised handlebars and stretching forward leather biker boots. I want to ride from coast to coast, through the back roads, with no plans, no reservations, and no schedules. The motorcycle will be my channel to inner peace.

At that time I had not even sat on a motorcycle before, so some work had to be done. In the summer of 2009 I slowly started pursuing my goal, one tiny step at a time. I took the motorcycle safety course, fell, injured myself, and failed it. Then I went back, passed, got a tiny 250, joined a local riding club, and traded to a bigger bike. By late spring of 2010, I was ready to go all the way: ride solo from New York to California, and mark a big checkmark on my bucket list. My wife, who in the meantime had seen her husband transform from a groggy chimp into a smiling human supported the endeavor, and the project turned from a dream into a plan. I allocated a modest budget and started preparing to go on the road in the fall.

The plan was to ride alone, from New York to California, and spend all days and nights in solitary contemplation, gathering inspiration from the road and from the people I may meet along the way. It was a simple plan, but it was also a little risky: being away from my family for weeks, without an opportunity to process and discuss my thoughts could possibly be boring, perhaps even depressing. It could be great to have the opportunity to stop along the way and discuss the thoughts that emerge, and process them. Luckily for me, I actually worked with some of the most famous experts one would consult on a soul-searching journey: authors like Deepak Chopra and Stephen Covey, and prominent psychology researchers like Phil Zimbardo, James Pennebaker, and Sonja Lyubomirsky. I called them and asked if I can stop along the way to chat with them. They all agreed. Ride of Your Life turned from a personal journey into an opportunity to find some broader answers to the questions that people ask as their lives evolve. To join the wisdom of the road with the professional take of experts to form a guide to inner peace. I got some video equipment and scheduled approximate dates to meet with the experts in Maryland, North Carolina, Texas, and California.

On Sunday, September 19 2010 I headed west shocked and anxious to leave my family without knowing exactly where I’ll be spending the night. In the five weeks that followed I rode through mountains and valleys, forests and deserts, towns, cities, and oil rigs, in rain and in sunshine. 6,000 miles later I got back with answers, and had regained my inner peace.

The Ride changed the lens through which I see the world, and affected my life in a profound way: prior to leaving I met in New York with the founders of a company called bLife. When I reached Los Angeles I met with them again, ended up selling my company and became bLife’s Chief Scientist.  I also went on to study life-coaching and now coach and teach life-coaching courses. Two years later, I decided to move with my family to Israel, and since then I divide my time between the West Coast, the East Coast, and the Middle East.  I found not just inner peace, but dare I say – enlightenment. Today I’m a better husband, better dad, better professional, and just a better human all around, and I experience daily life in a very different way.

This book accompanies my coast-to-coast journey. It describes the meditative experience of riding daily for hours, and the insights that slowly emerged from riding experience and the professional angles of the experts I interviewed. It is also a book about dreams. Sometimes a small change in perspective demolishes the barriers, turns life around, and makes dreams come true. Today my mission as a scientist, coach, and author, is to help people make that shift and accomplish their dreams.  This is what the book is really about.

I hope this guide helps you go on the ride of your own life. Ride safe and ride on!

Ride Of Your Life - a Coast to Coast Journey to Inner Peace - on Kickstarter!

 

Ran Zilca is a research scientist, entrepreneur, and author.

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