Sometimes you might ask yourself, “does anything I say or do actually matter? Does it make a difference to anyone at all .. or does anyone really even give a shit?” “LOL” .. I know I have. And then I run across an article or hear someone say something that answers that question with a resounding “YES!” I have to crack a smile right this minute though, as I know I can “bet the ranch” on the fact that nearly everyone who just read this knows what “LOL” means.
They’re probably even reading this on an iPhone or some other technologically advanced gizmo that helps take them completely out of the “personal” communication era. The early years of my country life .. when we never locked a door or carried a cell phone. When my brother and I took off on our bicycles and never came home for hours without fear of harm .. even though I’m sure my Mom still worried about us. Sometimes I remorse a bit over the sanctity of life we’ve lost over the years .. and the fact that too many people really just don’t give a shit about anything but themselves anymore. Am I just getting older or what? Oh crap! I just remembered I don’t even have the ranch to bet anymore, do I? Guess I’ve lost that too …
What I heard “Jake” say, a few days ago on a television show, was one of the most profound statements that could possibly be posed to the world .. including all those inconsiderate idiots I loathe. His statement pierced me like an arrow .. and it went exactly like this:
We can’t help but wonder how much difference one person makes in the world. We look inside ourselves .. questioning if we have the capacity for heroism, wisdom and greatness. But the truth is .. every time we take an action we make an impact. Every single thing we do has an effect on the people around us. Every choice we make sends ripples out into the world. Our smallest acts of kindness can cause a chain reaction of unforeseen benefits for people we’ve never met. We might not witness those results .. but they happen all the same.
The point where all things look possible .. the moment when a choice is made .. or an action taken .. the breath inhaled before a first step forward .. and the most lasting chain reactions that are started by those moments .. and actions .. and choices .. are always the ones that are started by Love.
I suppose someone who’s “tech-savvy” in this digitalized-miniaturized-technology-wise world we live in could tell me just how many people found my “adventures” online (yeah, you Chris) .. but I still wouldn’t know how many actually read them. But the interesting fact to me is this: that statement was actually a concise synopsis of many of the thoughts I’ve presented for over two years now. Much of it “right on the money” as far as my contemplations and the “big picture” goes. So here I go again .. coincidence or what? Definitely food for thought .. as that’s where we spend our lives anyway .. just between our right and left ears.
As I glanced back through some of my thoughts I’ve exposed to you in writing .. I realized that I have made statements or suggestions that I truly hoped would affect everyone who read them .. especially a select few .. or just two .. specifically. Maybe because .. as I’ve said in the past .. I’ve learned so much from all the bad choices I’ve made. At least I like to think so. In Hope — Adventure 11, I talked about “choices” .. and how pain is such a brilliant teacher. When I answered the couple at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, who asked me what I did, with “I commit random acts of kindness” .. that was as honest as I could get. The “being a pilot” part was just my uncontrollable, normal witty humor. But even that answer was my “choice” at that moment. Because whatever comes our way .. whatever battle we have raging inside us .. we always have a choice.
I also said that the decisions you make in an instant are the ones that define your true character .. and that I’ve grown to believe your true character is reflected by the decisions you make when no one is watching. That’s who we really are .. even though our character is evidenced by the scars left behind by many of those “decisions” we did make. Often times .. the scars cannot be seen .. nor can they be erased. Life “is” about our choices .. and each day provides us with the opportunity to make even more. The choices I made that left scars .. gave me the wisdom to make even better decisions as “pain became my most brilliant teacher.” I recently ran across a quote from Gilode Brahn that read, “pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses our understanding.” How perfect is that?
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “to be yourself .. in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else .. is the greatest accomplishment.” Yet, how ironic would be the statement made by the fictional super-hero Spiderman when he said, “choose to be the best of yourself .. it’s the choices that made us who we are .. and we can always choose to do what’s right.” But maybe sometimes it’s virtually impossible to know what’s the “right” thing to do. So with good intention, you do what you think is best. But even when I was wrong, in Bosco — Adventure 2 .. I made the point, “the choice was always mine”.
In Lonliness — Adventure 12, I spoke of our “actions and reactions”, of “random acts of kindness” .. and how I believe that is an integral part of the true biker’s character .. the real adhesive for their comradeship. How reality is harsh .. and every choice we make in an instant while on our Iron Horse could very well be our last. But the most important belief I stated in that adventure was that “Love of family is stronger than man’s will to survive”. And that brings me right back to Jake’s comment on the moment a “choice” is made .. it was started by “Love”.
So when we think of “Love” .. most of us are instinctively drawn to thoughts of family .. our Grandma .. Mother .. our children .. and our emotions directly affect the “choices” we make regarding them. Now that my own mother, Virginia, (“Ginny”) is about to turn 86 this October .. I’m faced with another choice .. what will I do for her this year?
Last year my sister, Peg, and I planned a surprise 85th celebration for her. Actually, my sis worked her butt off with flowers, catering and guests while I came up with the idea of taking Mom to the church for a “family picture” and baby-sitting her until it was time to leave. She was completely overwhelmed when approximately 75 friends and relatives, many who drove or flew in from out-of-state, came to surprise her. Even my Aunt Verl & Uncle Roy (both in their 90’s and sharp as tacks) were brought from Ohio by my cousin Carol and her husband Ray. The look on Mom’s face when she walked into the room was priceless .. and she still talks about that day as one of the best surprises in her life.
When family and friends get together and spend hours reminiscing .. the collective energy within that confine is permeated with pure Love, and it couldn’t have been any stronger than on that day. Nostalgia — Adventure 22 comes to mind when the past is submerged in the present .. that story says everything I could possibly describe about that gathering. And thus, came the solution to my quest. No surprises this year .. but we are travelling back in time.
“Cammack Station is a place where friends gather, people smile, and the nostalgic presence is a welcome break from today’s chain restaurants. The quaint brick building on the corner of Old Mill St and West Jackson Street just west of Muncie, Indiana was formally home of “Pete’s Grocery.” It sits in a small town called Cammack, and is often a “destination ride” for many bikers. Most recently, it was one of six stops in the 6th Annual Cory’s Crewz for a Cure, which had a fantastic turnout. I actually remember going into Pete’s Grocery years ago when I went to Cammack to patronize Guinn’s Shoe Repair. Steve Guinn took over his Dad’s business and is probably one of the best leathersmiths I’ve ever met. Both he and his father did a lot of work for me over the years, but most of all I enjoyed their conversations. Imagine that? Face to face .. no texting! How do you explain that interaction to kids today?
Pete’s was at the heart of Cammack. One of those little two-pumper gas station/grocery stores you might picture in your mind along Old Route 66. But this is what real country life was like in Indiana .. as the railroad tracks ran right through town just behind the store and next to the grain elevator for the farmers. A much simpler life indeed .. without all the “distractions” that have only made our lives and decisions more complicated.
There is just so much going on in our lives .. and around us .. that it just cant help but make it harder to “focus” on the task at hand. Driving has even become more life-threatening from all the digital-interaction distractions … and, of course, those clueless idiots who insist on talking or texting while driving or tuning in a radio or MP3 player while piloting a motorcycle. Guess they’ve not yet experienced the trauma of a medical emergency ride in the back of an ambulance .. or the lifelong, detrimental ramifications of someone’s stupidity. There I go again .. up on my soap box and entirely off track .. not surprised, eh?
I called the Cammack Station the other day and spoke to Paige. She said Kelly Elliott was still the Manager, and that she thought it was 2007 when the old grocery was completely renovated into the time capsule it is today. Also last year .. about this same time .. Peg and I took Mom to the Station for lunch. You can just imagine what stories each artifact of the past could tell .. and we thoroughly enjoyed every moment of investigation and awe.
One of the big draws to the Station is its unique variety of menu items. The dining area is fashioned after a ’50’s soda shop .. and the selection includes all the popular treats of the past. But their own specialty items are what give the patrons quite an interesting and impressive selection to “choose” from. Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Bacon Burger, Egg Burger, Bubba Burger, Mushroom Swiss Burger, Double Mushroom/Swiss Burger, BBQ/Onion Ring Burger, Jalapeno Burger, Geneva’s Fried Bologna, Virgil’s Smoked Sausage, Myrna Jean’s Grilled Chicken, Carpy’s Grilled Tenderloin, Breaded Tenderloin, Fried Chicken Club, Turkey Club and Ruben. That was only the beginning .. and you soon find out that sometimes too many choices makes it difficult to make just “one”.
Geneva’s Fried Bologna was Peg’s favorite .. so that made it easy for us when faced with all those distractions. An Old Fashioned Soda completed Mom’s trip down memory lane .. and it was just great to see that big smile on her face. But I would still “bet the ranch” that her smile was more due to the fact that she was there with her children .. her family .. and that room filled with Love. Believe me .. all the little things we say .. or do .. matter. And thanks for closing the gate. Happy Birthday Mom!
Until next time .. ride smart .. ride safe
and the Adventure continues …