Saturday, June 29, 2013

Inflection: explore, explorer; discover, discovers.

A cryptic title to be sure.

What the heck am I trying to get at?

The best times of my life, the most memorable experiences, the most intriguing events, have been when I have set out to explore, looking to discover.

The summers stretched so long when I was ten, eleven, twelve. I loved exploring. We all had shoulder bags or knapsacks we would stuff with sandwiches, cookies and apples, a canteen for some water, and perhaps a pen knife. Then we'd just go. Hop on our beaten up bikes, and go.

We were gone all day. It seemed that there was always some corner of our world we hadn't been, things we hadn't seen. We would go wherever our bikes could take us, following familiar streets to unfamiliar ones, leaving paved roads to take roads under construction. Those would take us to the edge of our world, to farmers' fields where there were farm tractor paths to bump along, and woods to explore.

What was it that made those times so satisfying?

It may be a guy thing, but I hope not. Certainly there were never any girls sharing our rides. It wasn't that we excluded girls. But it was a time before girls. I don't know how girls spent those summers because we were oblivious. We were exploring Mars, they might as well have been on Venus.

One of the magic ingredients was that for the first time in our lives, for whole days at a time, we were self-sufficient. And we could go places. Places our parents knew nothing about. Places our parents would never take us, places our parents wouldn't, practically couldn't, go. We were free, and we had bikes.

It was serious business. Sprawled, perched, or squatting on the lawn or our front steps, or the curb, or the hot pavement of our suburban driveways, stuffing our bags and talking about where we'd been and where we could go. And then we would just go. Four or five of us. Following our suntanned noses, no particular destination, no rush, no hurry, but rolling. Truly content to feel the wind on our bodies, hear the hum of our tires, and the occasional clank of our chains.

Having a Vespa re-kindled that experience. My world has expanded. My riding buddies lived in houses within two blocks in the burbs. Now they're in distant cities. We explored a suburb, we're now set to explore a continent.

Where once we were just looking for new places, now we're looking for new people and places, kind of.

Why kind of?

Because an important part of this voyage of discovery is riding with each other, and meeting you. Well, not all of you, but many of you. I wish it could be all of you, but it will be many of you. Those of you who live in Ottawa, Cornwall, Kingston, Toronto, State College, and Portland. You are in some ways new. In many ways not. You blog and post on ModernVespa.com. I already know quite a bit about you, a slice of your life, your life on two wheels.

If once my friends and I returned from our rides with stuff we'd found, now we will be collecting faces, stories, and memories.

And we will be displaying them here, for all of you to enjoy.

I can't wait.

Back to the beginning. This is about the importance of inflection. A shift. Moving from the idea "explore", to the doing of it. From the imperative "discover", to the pleasure of finding. Riding marked an inflection point in my life, then and now.

To borrow from a friend, I'll find you on the road.

9 comments:

  1. David,
    Sharing your exploration foundation with us has led me to remember mine and you took me back further than I typically go...thank you for that.

    As you gather treasures in your knapsack, if I'm ever lucky enough to be a tidbit in your collection, I'd be honored.

    I really enjoyed this!

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    1. P.S. I've changed my Avatar to the one I use on all of the forums I participate in. My first 'vehicle' and how I started the exploring that has meant so much to me.

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    2. Coop, Bob will be more or less in your neighborhood on his way to meet up with us in State College PA.

      Drop him a line on his blog and see where that goes.

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  2. Growing up in the country my summers were mostly spent alone, but exploring I did plenty of. Perhaps this is part of why I still explore alone. My bicycle traveled many a gravel road and more than one two track lane. Good stuff.

    I share Coop's sentiments. I'd been honored if I ever turn up in your knapsack.
    ~k

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    1. Keith, you never know. The world is a very small place and getting smaller all the time.

      The honor would be all mine.

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  3. Your description of exploring as kids could have been about me and my friends growing up. Thanks for taking me back there. Also looking forward to hopefully being able to meet up as you undertake your next exploration.

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  4. David - what a great reflection. Like Keith, I grew up in the country where, boy or girl, it didn't matter - If you had two wheels you were a friend. Oh, the places we went ... oh the places we still can go.

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    1. Karen, the suburb of my youth was right on the edge of development. The farms were literally across the street. So in some ways I got a taste of growing up in the country. My kids didn't have that. I think they missed out.

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