Friday, January 02, 2009

What we leave behind.

2009 has been sprung upon us accompanied by fireworks. I stole this photo from my daughter. I hope she didn't steal it from someone who minds! For some of us it was actual fireworks. For others, the fireworks may have been going off inside pounding skulls. It's that traditional time of year when people make resolutions.

Personally, I've quit that habit. For me, at least, resolutions have become bars in a cage that I feel compelled to enter. Then I'm "locked in"; bound by whatever constraints the resolutions impose. I do, however, take a bit to look back for a sort of "debrief". I look at what worked out and what didn't. When I look to the year ahead, I'm looking to set guidelines. More importantly, I'm looking to see what I'm motivated to do. That's why New Year's resolutions don't work for me. If we're not truly motivated then the mental decisions won't stick. While the turning of the year is pretty arbitrary in the big picture, it's as good as time as any to take stock. Maybe the close timing to the holidays helps us to be more contemplative at this time. As opposed, say, to the stress of April 15th!

For me motivation comes all during the year. I'm either motivated to keep after something I'm already doing or change course slightly. Maybe both. If something doesn't work I'm not going to wait until the coming year to knock it off. If there's something I'm motivated to do, same story. For example, I used to be pretty good with a guitar. Then I quit playing for years. Clinton plays well but I never really joined him. Other things called. This year I'm going to take it up again. Not as a resolution. I'm motivated to do it because I need the relaxation and peace that playing and being creative will bring me. The timing will manifest itself to me when it's right.

One thing I've always been pretty motivated to keep on with is riding and teaching others. Motorcycles have always been a part of my life. You know you've become solidly identified with something when people are always giving you stuff related to your activity. Stuff like this.

Somebody gave this to Katie and I a number of years ago. We keep it on the fireplace mantle.

A motorcycle is a vehicle that moves my physical body from Point A to Point B. Somewhere along those physical journeys I've picked up spiritual enlightment, too. The positive rewards have extended far beyond the two wheeled world. Because of everything wonderful that riding has done for me I've been moved to give something back. One of the ways I've chosen to do that is to reach back and help other riders come to where I am. Teaching rider classes works both ways. I start out by being the one giving. By the end, the students are sharing with me, too. The synergism and dynamics provide an endless motivation loop. We all go away better off for having been together.

It's been said in many ways and much more eloquently than what I can manage, but an axiom to live by is this:

It's not what you take away but what you leave behind that matters most.

That acts as one of my guidelines during the course of the year. Sometimes it's hard to know if we've actually lived up to that. Once in a while, though, we get some positive sign that we're making a difference.

We had our instructor banquet in November. I still had a couple of classes to teach. For the most part, though, our year was ended. The grand total of students would end up being 9972. If we'd known we were going to get that close to 10,000 we might have tried to sneak in a couple more classes!

The banquet is a nice time to see everybody. It's also about recognizing the tremendous effort put forth by the instructor body. Instructors get certificates and recognition for classes taught. The ones who teach 5 classes are just as respected as those who teach 25. None of us are full time. It's all a matter of sharing from the heart. If a person doesn't have the motivation to teach they won't stay around long. It's not like a regular part time job, believe me! We have a chance to nominate our peers for Awards of Merit, Rookie of the Year, and Instructor of the Year. I was Instructor of the Year in 2002. My good friend Dean, who comments here, got that award a couple of years later, I think. I know he received that honor, I just can't remember which year for sure. We also have a chance to nominate someone for the annual Lifetime Achievement Award. Of course, staff has the final say on the matter.

This year I was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not entirely altruistic. I enjoy a pat on the back as much as anyone. This was a really nice pat! To put it into perspective, though, remember this is an annual award that's been given out for quite a few years. I'm simply one of maybe 15 or 18 who've gone before me. It's still nice, though, since it starts with nominations from our fellow instructors.

The bottom reads: In recognition of your tireless energy, dedication, and service to the motorcyclists of Oregon.

I have to say that feels pretty good!

I've been lucky to have been surrounded by people like Dean who take on leadership roles and always strive for excellence. Not only do they care about helping motorcyclists, but each other, as well. There's been a couple of really great mentors who've helped me along the way. I've tried to return the favor to other instructors in turn. I'd like to recognize my fellow instructors around the world. I know some of you who read here are instructors, or Rider Coaches, or whatever you're known by in your program. We may be in different areas and teaching different programs, but I've probably felt every emotion and had similar experiences to all of you. We have a connection that transcends physical distance. You're doing a fine thing and I thank you.

I also consider myself lucky to have made the acquaintance of you all through this blog and those you keep. I can't tell you how much positive energy you have brought to my life as we exchange comments. My hope for the coming year is that it continue to be worth your time to keep coming here.

As 2009 dawns, may you all find passion, motivation, and fulfillment in your journey. I'm sure there's still going to be political and financial stresses. You think? Those kind of things can be consuming and depressing. At the risk of sounding like a hopeless optimist, I have to say that there's still a lot of great things to be lived as well. Go find your passion and pursue it. When this year takes its turn to fade away, my hope would be that we could all say we've left something of value behind.

Miles and smiles,



Charlie6 said...

No resolutions here either, except perhaps to try and remember to wear earplugs every time I ride.

Here's more fireworks for ya....congrats on the award!


bobskoot said...

There can be no higher compliment than being judged by your peers, congratulations on your Lifetime Achievement Award. You were always appreciated, only difference now is that it's official. It's a pleasure to know you

Allen Madding said...



Doug C said...

Well deserved recognition, I'm sure, Dan. Congratulations!

Oh, and about sounding like a hopeless optimistic... It should be everyone's calling to see the world as it is, point out the good, and work to correct the bad.

Happy New Year!

Baron's Life said...

Congrats and God Bless.
Well deserved I'm sure

David said...

They say hard work is its own reward, but it sure feels nice when someone notices! :) Congrats on the award.

Dave T.

Earl Thomas said...

Congratulations on your award.

I have personally never felt the need for resolutions. I prefer to reflect on the past year and perhaps try to learn something from those reflections, good or bad, in the future.


Stacy said...

Congratulations! So, are you going to mount that plaque up in front on the fairing or in the back on your top case? :)

Bryce said...

"When this year takes its turn to fade away, my hope would be that we could all say we've left something of value behind."

Value: good memories of your achievements and yes some of our own not so great happenings.

Life passes us by if we don't keep track of the clock of time.

However that clock ticks for each one of us different ways.

May all of our clocks keep ticking in 2009.

fasthair said...

Mr. IronDad: It's nice to see you get that award for all your hard work. You should be proud to know that not only are you making a difference teaching people how to ride but that people took notice of your hard work. I tip my hat to you sir.


SheRidesABeemer said...

Congrats on the award, and the positive motorcyclist message that you provide!

Krysta in Milwaukee said...

Very well deserved.
Peer recognition feels a lot more real than from a boss, doesn't it?

About resolutions...
I used to actually sit down & write out a list, then post them on the side of the fridge to see all year.

Sometimes they'd get crossed off, often things would still be left come next 31DEC. Now I do things more in my head. This year, though, I'll share one with all of you:

Spend more time with people who mean something to you. Whether that's in person, on the phone, or by (e)mail, keep in touch and make sure they know how you feel about them.

I just found out that a friend has ALS. (Also that he spent 2 months in the hospital!) Already on a ventilator, very hard to talk, etc. I asked what I could do, and all he wanted was contact - emails, mostly, 'cause of the difficulty talking. [He's in Oregon, I'm in Wisconsin.]

So I will. And while I'm at it, I'll email my brother and mom more, too. And probably call.

Steve Williams said...

Congratulations on the award Dan. It's no surprise you were chosen. Your dedication, understanding, and commitment to safe riding is evident.

So what are your plans for Act II? I don't imagine you will do much laurel resting...

As far as resolutions go I think I need to focus more on action. I can do a lot of really neat thinking but that doesn't really get me anywhere.

Have a great New Year!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Conchscooter said...

It hurst my teeth to be sentimental and sloppy but let me just say that I envy you your altruism, it shines through in your blog and your ability to refuel yourself through your family ties and use that energy to give back to strangers is awe inspiring.
And that is the last piece of sentimentality for 2009 you are getting from me, a misanthrope of biblical proportions.

irondad said...

First off, I want to offer appreciation for everyone's kind words and suppport. Life has been much richer having met you all online.

I do the ear plug thing, too. It may be too little too late but at least the ringing won't get worse!

The peer thing is what makes it neat, I agree. I'm enjoying your blog, as well.

Peace be with you and yours, too.

Doug C,
I like that mission statement for life. It's too easy to get caught up in just the negative, isn't it?

Baron's Life,
Blessings to you, too. Thank you.

Dave T,
I think about you when I see trucks on the road. Sometimes I think that would be a great life. Then I think you probably work pretty hard, too. And deal with undesirable road users. So you can have it. I do appreciate all of you drivers when store shelves are full!

You get exactly where I'm coming from.

It has to be on the back of the bike. That's the only view most people will have of me! I wonder if I could attach it to the back of a jacket and wear it like a patch? Speaking of jackets, did your new one arrive, yet?

It's important, I agree, to be honest when we look back. May your clock tick strong in 2009!

I'm mostly proud of having had the chance to affect so many riders in a positive way. Thank you for your many supportive comments here.

Thanks so much. Talk about presenting a great positive image of riders, look at you!

You're absolutely right. Sometimes there's no "later" to spend time with people. "Now" is all we can count on. Great reminder. By the way, I travel Oregon. If I can help, I'd love to make a new friend. You can send details via e-mail if you'd like. If there is such a thing as positive karma, I'll try to influence it for you both.

Steve W,
No laurel resting for sure. The first class of the year is coming up the 22nd of this month. I'll be back out there in the cold.

It's funny how we have our strong sides. I've always been more of a man of action. You have a philosophical bent. Humanity truly needs a combination of both to be successful, I think.

Thank you, Michael, I'm truly touched that you would expend the emotional energy to say what you did. Misanthrope is a pretty strong word. I have to admit that I've skirted around the edges of that description, though, at times.

As long as I'm in the admitting mode, I'll tell you I find that tone on your blog actually ends up being kind of refreshing. What's wrong with me?

Take care,


Stacy said...

Dan: Yes, yes it did! Keep an eye on my blog as I'll be posting about it soon -- but I have to find some rain first! (Darn that uncooperative weather. How dare it be sunny this past weekend!)

mrs rc said...

Wow! Congrats on the award! Well-deserved I am sure.