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GOING THE DISTANCE
"NEW YEAR'S MESSAGE 2013"
Photo by Genghis
AGE-OLD QUESTION: What is a biker's identity?
Contemplating the arrival of 2014, I'm spending this period thinking about the past. It seems to be a specialty of mine. Call it introspective curiosity. Call it a romance with nostalgia, a personal trait that I admit to indulging in heavily, like a drunk drawn to the next alchoholic fix. When it comes to nostalgia, I'm not a social imbiber. Oh, no, I'm definitely of the out-of-control-addictive persuasion, when it comes to nostalgia for the past. However, there's more to my introspection, than the mere slaking of addictive thirsts. I'm a firm believer in trying to understand my past actions, and the motives, conscious and subconscious, for those actions. For it is these underlying motives and accompanying desires and emotions, that provide one of the keys to living a meaningful life.
Living a meaningful life, entails a deep appreciation for what makes us "tick" as people. In order for our self-mechanism to run like a precision-obsessed clock, that is well-lubricated with Harley 60 weight, we must understand the reasons for the tick, by examining the "tock" of our existences. In this case, the "tocks" are the underlying reasons for what we do. For me, being a biker means being engaged in a never-ending quest for fulfillment, for that's how I see Harley riding. Riding a Harley for a lifetime, in other words, "going the distance" with one's motorcycle---is a means to an end. The "end" for me, is to achieve happiness through a mechanical means: My Bike. The same could be said of My Car, my righteous American Muscle Car, my '72 Vette. And I do consider Mary, my '72 Stingray, to be another avenue for finding deep fulfillment.
This is what I face in the future between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014. It is what I face every year, as a challenge, pleasure, joy and obligatory quest---all at the same time---and that is to see what makes me tick. This goes beyond the meager borders of this humble reporter, though. What I feel is important, could be a template for bikers in general. I believe that as bikers, we all have the same motivations (there goes that "tock" again), even if some of us bikers aren't cognizant of 'em. They may not enter the consciousness of some of our brothers, but I guarantee that they lay dormant, but alive---in these biker's subconscious. That's what this New Year's Message 2014 consists of: A revelation of what makes you tick, by scrutinizing my motivations. I believe these same fundamental motivations have driven bikers since the very first Knucklehead rolled off the assembly lines in 1936.
Photo by Genghis
IN THE BEGINNING: Examining my motivations when I started riding 45 years ago.
Part of my New Year's Message 2014, is to urge you all to examine your "tocks" in a fresh light. The light up ahead, in the future is bright and diffusely focused, all the better for introspection. It is not so tightly focused so that you lose the forest for the trees. It will not blind you. It is widely dispersed, allowing a leisurely inspection of all facets, letting you look into yourself. This light will illuminate that Signpost Up Ahead, directing you to the Introspection Zone.
It will let you see yourself in terms of your past, present, and your future. This is a journey of the mind that we will begin together, and end in singularly individualistic ways, as we ride our Harleys during the course of 2014. We may use these days before New Year's Day as a collective consciousness on our bikes, but we will end up on different exit ramps at the end of the year. We will ride until then though, on the Common Highway of Harley Happiness.
Our bike ride through 2014 however, is but a small link in the drive chain of trying to understand what our Harley riding represents, in the bigger picture of life. Each link represents a link on this chain. My chain is now 45 links long. When this chain comes full circle for us and has become fully reconnected, we would've gone the distance with our twin-barreled companions. When the circle is complete, then we would've lived a life of deep meaning and satisfaction, as bikers.
Let me state this up front: It's not about materialism. It's not about, "He who has the most toys..." I'm not a "collector" of motorcycles, or Corvettes. I only own one of each, neither of whom are "investments." My Harley and my Vettes are living beings, and that's why they have names. This is why I use the word "whom" with them. They are my Mechanical Girls. This is something that any Motorvatin' Maven who is in tune with his machines, knows deep down to be true. That his machines are special, alive, and deserve the same respect as any beloved companion.
At the very top of motor racing, Sebastian Vettel, the 26 year old genius driver, the reigning and consecutive four-time Formula One champion, firmly believes that his machines are alive, and he does name them. He and I have something in common. We not only name our machines, we both pat 'em affectionately after rides. Vettel always pats his cars affectionately, after they've served him well after winning races. Check out what Vettel has to say about his race cars:
HE THINKS HIS CARS LIVE: Sebastian Vettel patting his car after a race.
"It'a quite a different relationship, comparing to the ones you build with human beings. Still, you have to live in symbiosis with your car. You have to treat it like you would treat a pretty girl, be kind to her, respect her; otherwise, it will leave you stranded."
Vettel is an amazing driver. With his reflexes, intuitive grasp of how machines perform on a road, and symbiotic relationship that rivals any biker's with his bike, he'd be successful in any type of machine with a motor. His feel for the machines, his feelings for the machines, are at the very core, I believe, of what makes a biker a biker. True bikers love their machines as if they were beloved people. Herein lies also, the core of this New Years Message 2014.
Photo by Genghis
BIKE'S HANDLEBARS: A way of getting a grip on significant meaning in your life
Once again, I have to rely on speaking for myself, but I feel that what I feel and believe, is what many, if not most bikers, have in their belief systems. I know this from the altruistic nature of what I feel. I feel that being a biker is a noble pursuit. I feel that riding a Harley that you love more than almost anything in this world, indicates a deep meaning in your life as a biker. Riding that Mechanical Girl for your entire life, graces your life with righteous and lasting meaning.
An article like this can quickly devolve into a self-indulgent exercise in narcissistic navel-gazing. Doesn't matter. It doesn't matter, because I believe that all people---not just bikers---must examine why they have meaning in life, and what engenders that meaning. For bikers, it's our bikes. It has to mean more than just having a "fun machine" to ride---although, it is certainly that---and more. What began in our callow youth, as the shallow wanting of fun, develops into much more. With the wisdom of age, we see that it's become a venue for the growth of inner meaning in our lives. The term "inner meaning" only has significance for those who've experienced it real-time, over time. This is a classic case of, "If I have to explain, then you wouldn't understand."
Let's face it: That was the initial reason---the initial "tock" for why that Girl on Two Wheels has given meaning to your life---looking for fun as the young do. Looking back on your life as a biker, you cannot deny this essential truth. But it is definitely more than merely having fun riding your bike. In the end, going the distance means this never-ending quest for fulfillment. Even if you haven't given this much intentional thought, you know this instinctively, if you've been riding for a long time. I am certain that thinking bikers find true meaning in life, through their motorcycles. That's why on this upcoming New Years 2014, I encourage you to think about what being a biker means. Later.
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014!