Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

January QuickThrottle Column

Middle of January here in Palm Springs, and I'm getting settled and feeling out of sorts in many ways. Things have changed here this year, friends are gone, and others are not as close. It's different and unsettling, but I'm hoping to adjust and get back to living and stop chasing things that are already gone or weren't here. That beings said, as I work on my February column I need to post the January one here. You may recall that when I posted December's I said that I was hoping my publisher would like my January one. Well, he not only liked it, he loved it, saying it was "different" and "quite personal which is a good thing now and then."

So with that said, here you go...
OK, so here we are, January 2016 – another brand new year gets under way. The monthly calendar has twelve new pages all of them blank. There are 366 new days to make the most of. It’s a brand new road stretching out to the horizon. And what are we going to do with all that empty road ahead?

As a motorcycle rider, using the road as a metaphor works well for me. I can use it to explain and illustrate a lot, just like a mariner uses the sea or a pilot may use the sky as their metaphor for explaining things. I use the road in the title of this column and the title of my on-line blog and books I’m writing. The road is in my blood, and it always has been.  Why that is I don’t know. It must have been imprinted on my brain shortly after birth. I was born in Denver, Colorado, but adopted by my parents in Ogden, Utah two weeks after that. The adoption agency that handled my adoption sent someone from Utah to Colorado to fetch me and bring me back, and so I experienced my first road trip when I was but a few days old. So when most infants are imprinting on their birth mother and father, I was imprinting on the highway.

Since that day I have been drawn to heading off down the road, wandering, exploring, seeing what lies ahead, and wondering where it may lead.  I think that most motorcycle riders feel this as well. The freedom of the open road and its endless possibilities that stretch out before us and roll away under our feet are the food or fuel of our souls as riders. It calls us with an almost missionary zeal to throw a leg over the iron, fire the engine up and roar off to the horizon.
It’s traditional this time of year to make “New Year’s Resolutions” – promises to ourselves and others to make changes in our lives to make them better somehow. Most people do this in one way or another – take stock of ourselves and where we are  – if only privately to ourselves in our own thoughts. “I resolve to do xxx this year.”  One of the things that makes us human is our innate desire to improve, to learn, to grow, to experience, and to explore. It’s what elevates us from the other living things that inhabit our planet.

As I look down the empty road ahead that is 2016 and wonder where it will lead, I’m finding that I’m more anxious, more nervous, more unsettled than I ever have been in my 54 years on this earth. There is just so much angst everywhere and everything seems unsettled. There’s a lot going on this coming year. Things are changing fast and will change even more as the year goes by. People are angry, frightened, scared, frustrated. It shows in the amount of noise that is out there.

It’s an election year for one, and one like we’ve never seen before as far as number of candidates and the lack of civil discourse. We’ll have a new President by this time next year, and quite likely a slate of new congressional members. Our state legislature is likely to change dramatically as well, as will a number of state-wide elected officials. Our elected officials struggle to balance expectations (often I think their expectations rather than ours) with revenues and priorities – particularly the lack of both.

People don’t feel safe in their homes, or in their communities, and we even do a double-take walking into a seemingly peaceful movie theater or café these days. Demographics are changing, and entire groups of people are demonized and branded. And it seems no one knows what to do about it or more importantly, how to make it all better.

It’s times like these that getting out on the road is even more important in my book. Turn off the cable-TV news, put down the paper, log off Facebook and Twitter close the laptop. Throw a leg over the ride, fill it up with gas, rejoicing that it its half the price it was last year, and head out away from the bumpy pot-hole filled roads of the cities, out to the land, and explore.

Head down that unknown road, meet up and make a new friend that’s different from you at a bar or burger joint, and find out what’s on their mind, what makes them tick, and see that deep down they probably aren’t much different than you. I’ve made some of my best friends this way – striking up a conversation with unlikely people, or having them come up to me. As bikers we experience this all the time – the mystique that seems to draw total strangers into conversations at gas pumps or bars.  These people worry about the same things you do, they have dreams and goals and wants and needs not all that different than you do.  Make that your New Years Resolution – to explore, learn, and celebrate the things that make us different and the things that we all have in common.

No one knows where the road of 2016 will lead or where it will take us, but lets all relax and enjoy the ride getting there. There is an old Hindu saying that I love. It goes like this: “Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, it’s not yet the end.” Things may not feel “all right” right now, but it’s not yet the end now is it?

Gary can be reached at and you can read his blog at or 

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