by Kippy Myers
When I was a child, I thought as a child and dreamed as a child. My goals and dreams were about doing or acquiring fun things that had a very shallow appeal to the senses. These goals didn't require much of me except to enjoy them. And I did. But by their very nature, the value was fleeting and so was my memory of them.
For adults, however, dreams and goals are often more about accomplishments than simple, ephemeral pleasures. Many adults even engage in physically and mentally punishing activities such as climbing Mt. Everest, running in a marathon, or earning a Ph.D. These are all great feats, but they require a lot of planning, dedication, time, effort, money, muscle, and sweat. Part of the attraction of having such difficult dreams is that there is no satisfaction quite like accomplishing something that has taken you far outside your comfort zone and has pushed you to your limits. Such triumphs tend to take you to a deeper place in life, indeed to a clearer vision of self that seems inaccessible without a significant degree of individual risk and personal investment. I believe that the explanation of this phenomenon is to be found in the DNA of the universe: cause/effect, give/take, investment/return.
In the summer of 2012 I was blessed to bring to realization a lifelong dream. But it was hard. It took a lot out of me. And it paid me back much more. After all these months, I think about it every day.
Since I was fourteen years old, one of my fondest and steadiest dreams has been to ride a motorcycle along the California coast, particularly along Highway 1 through Big Sur. One of the sources of this notion came in the form of a weekly TV series that I loved, Then Came Bronson. The 1969 series focused on an angsty young man who traveled around the country on a Harley Davidson motorcycle and sometimes (not always) had entertaining encounters along the way.
Each week the intro/credits sequence featured motorcycle riding Jim Bronson (actor Michael Parks) approaching a red light alongside a station wagon driven by a family man. The man asks Bronson, "Taking a trip?" Bronson replies, "Yeah." Man says, "Where to?" Bronson, "Oh, I don't know. Wherever I end up I guess." That statement stuck with me and has rattled around in the back of my mind ever since. The man says to Bronson, "Man, I wish I was you." Yes. Truth. Bombshell. I never wanted to be the guy in the station wagon wishing that he had done something after it had already slipped away from him. I dreamed of freedom and adventure, the open road, wind in my teeth and bugs in my hair. Or vice versa.
After that brief dialog there is a glorious sequence of Bronson riding through Big Sur, gorgeous ocean waves and ocean side cliffs visible in the background, after which he crosses the iconic, fog enshrouded Bixby Creek Bridge. For decades I yearned to see those waves and cross that bridge from the seat of a motorcycle. Yearned. For decades.
(Watch the intro to Then Came Bronson)
For 38 years I've been married to a beautiful woman and we have raised two wonderful girls who are now grown and gone. At some point in the Summer of 2011 I began to think once again about the distant and almost impossible dream of riding through Big Sur, the dream that was fast slipping away from me at my age. The dream that someday soon I would wish that I had attempted. I decided that even if I tried and failed, I would be a happier man for trying. My wife encouraged me to go. So I did.
It was the most beautiful, incredible, magnificent, overpowering, dynamic, heart strengthening, jaw dropping scenery that I ever witnessed, and I saw it from the seat a motorcycle. And I crossed the Bixby Creek Bridge. Three times. Dreams can come true.
Of course, it was a very difficult and demanding trip that included a total of four extremely hot days riding through the Mojave Desert. I transported the motorcycle in my truck from Tennessee to Flagstaff, Arizona, so it was kind of tough when the truck broke down on my first day out, forcing me to replace a fuel filter that costs several hundred dollars. And what a joy to experience a truck tire blowout near Claude, Texas. I didn't sleep right or eat right and I pushed too hard, so I was getting sick by the time I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and had to turn toward home the following morning. As I was riding the bike through the desert for a two-day stint on my way back to the truck, I relished the thought of an air conditioner once again. Alas, my truck a/c went out and I had to get it repaired in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Blazing hot.
But all of those things turned out in my favor. It was largely because of these hardships of the desert, the sleeplessness, the breakdowns, the cheap motels, etc., that the trip was rewarding in a way that cannot be duplicated by merely taking an airplane to LA and a taxi to the beach. Cause and effect. Investment and return. A dream come true.
And it meant something.
Now I guess it's on to the next one.
Yes, I have others.
My suggestion for those who have ears to hear, is to consider stepping out of your comfort zone. I wouldn't want you to do anything foolish, but do something that you've always wanted to do. Pay the price. Reap the reward. Follow the dream that pushes you.
To the my right is Bixby Creek Bridge, the one that Bronson crossed each week on TV.