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.
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,