The Art and Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

Recently, I read, “The Art and Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig, for the first time.  If you haven’t read the book then I wouldn’t read any further because I’ll probably spoil it for you.   I’ll briefly explain it for those not familiar with the book or if it’s been awhile since you read it.  The book is about two people, the narrator who is the father is unnamed and his son, Chris, on a motorcycle trip from Minnesota to Northern California.  In the beginning they are also traveling with a couple, John & Silvia Sutherland, until John & Silvia return home after they reach Montana.  The time is passed by the narrator talking about various discussions, or Chautauquas as he calls them.  Many of these discussions focus on the narrator’s past self which he refers to in the third person as Phaedrus. 

After finishing this book last week, I first thought it was a complete waste of time.  I spent the past few weeks reading about some guy rambling on about Greek philosophy, repairing a motorcycle, an insane man obsessed with Quality, and being a poor father. But after thinking about the book for the last couple of day I’ve come to appreciate it.  The single thing that made me change my mind was the epilogue.  In the epilogue Pirsig talks about how his son Chris was murdered in the seventies when two men robbed him in San Francisco. He then talked about dealing with the loss of a loved one and thinking about where they go after they die.  It was really interesting and beautiful.  It hit home for me because I thought about this often after losing my father to heart attack.  Pirsig then goes on to talk about how his second wife became pregnant and they decided she was going to have an abortion but one night he had a strong feeling or vision which made him realize it was a bad decision.  They ended up deciding to not have the abortion.  Instead they had a little girl named Nell.  He went on to say it was the best thing that happened in his life and was amazed at how much she was like his son, Chris.  He described the birth of this new child as a way of bringing Chris back and filling the void left behind from his murder. 

This epilogue tied everything together.  It made me appreciate the book and understand the ending.