Episode 26: Going Out to Play - A motorcycling mindset

When we were kids, we played.  Remember?  Going outside to play?  My mother or dad would answer the phone, not a cell phone but the one built into our house, and a kid on the other end of the line would say “Can Ronnie come out to play?”  Today, you and I sometimes get a call or more likely a text saying “Want to go for a ride?”   In other words, sometimes my buddys Martin or Brian calls to ask, “Hey Ron, can you come out to play?”

That’s the beauty of this sport we love, isn’t it.  Yes, it’s transportation and a cool means for travel, but if you’re like me, it’s the same play that I experienced in my childhood.  When we go out for a ride, we go out to play, sometimes alone and sometimes with our friends, and that’s a beautiful thing.  What a gift to be able to do that!

In today’s episode, we’ll reminence for a while on a mindset that maybe we don’t think about as often as we should, especially as the responsibilities of life add up.  Going out to play with our motorcycles.  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it!  It is!  Let’s talk about it.  Thank you for joining me today!

A few weeks ago, I traveled back to my hometown of McKinney, Texas.  Yes, that’s where the accent comes from.  I’ve lived in Colorado for 25 years now, but my roots and Texas accent often comes out.  While in McKinney, I met up at a local coffeeshop with my childhood best friend, Roger. Roger and I met when we were 9 years old in the 3rd grade.  Our chat at that coffee shop went on for 3 hours. 

Over those 3 hours, we talked about our lives as adults, raising families, changing jobs here and there.  What really stuck with me, is how he answered this question.  I said “Roger, what do you remember about our childhood?”  Wow, then the flood gates opened and the memories filled the room.  

We talked about the hours spent together, going to the roller skating rink, going to the Texas State Fair.  Such wonderful memories.  It’s because of friends like Roger, that I had a very happy childhood.  Before the complexities and confusion that sometimes come along when you become a teenager, then young adult, then careers and families…. Before all that, as kids, Roger and I played.  Roger if you’re listening, thank you buddy!

I also had a happy childhood because I spent hours and hours and hours on my bicycle, riding wheelies for blocks and blocks around our neighborhood.  A man who worked at the local gas station gave me a red STP sticker to put on my bike.  For those who don’t know, STP is a motor oil treatment.  I also attached baseball trading cards with clothespins so that as the front wheel on my bike turned, it was clatter, sounding, in my imagination, like an engine.  As I described in an earlier podcast, the magic really happened when I was 11.  At 11 years old, after seeing the classic Bruce Brown film, “On Any Sunday”, I got my first little motorcycle, with a real engine.

So, let’s shift gears now and talk about squires.  Ha ha, hang there I’ll do my best to come to a conclusion here.  I usually get up very early in the morning, I take my coffee out to the patio, not to read, but to watch and listen.  I watch the hummingbirds come to the feeders and the squires and rabbits in the open space behind our home.  I especially enjoy watching the squires.  

Now I’m certainly no squire expert, but since the early Spring, I noticed 3 very little squires, I’m assuming siblings, little brothers and sisters.  It’s both amazing and hilarious how they will chase each other around through the trees, even hanging upside down from branches to grab at one another.  I wonder what it would sound like if I could hear them laugh.  I know that we normally think of wildlife as always being in survival mode, with every action having purpose in order to find food or shelter.  But I’m convinced that these little guys were having a ball!  They must be playing!

I remember hearing a segment from National Public Radio some years ago about the critical importance of play in children.  It was presented by a Neuroscientist. She described how, when children play alone with either a simple toy or even no toy at all, they will usually talk to themselves.  Talking out loud.  A two way conversation coming from one developing brain.  They also observed that when playing a game on a computer, children seldom, if ever talked to themselves.  The scientist described in some detail about how, during that time of talking to themselves, their brain is developing in ways that will stay with them the rest of their lives.

I got more curious recently about what the Academics say in regard to the benefits of play for children.  The article said “Play is especially important for children. Play helps children develop their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive skills. It also helps them learn how to interact with others, solve problems, and take risks. 

I know what you’re saying.  You’re saying “This is supposed to be a podcast about motorcycling, why are you talking about squires and children playing???”   Well, it’s because I’m convinced that you and I, even as adults, need that play time.  I think that all of those elements, the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive skills can come into play we as adults ride motorcycles.  

If the weather is good, I try to make time to ride my motorcycle every day.  Every single day.  Maybe it’s just for a few minutes after work, or it's a full day's ride or even and multiple day ride if I have time, but on the average day, I’ll ride some loop in the foothills near my home.  Those rides take me back to my childhood.  Back to my 11 year old self.  

As Roger reminded me in that long conversation at the coffeeshop, when we play, maybe we get transported back to a time when we weren’t aware of the complexities, or the dangers of life.  We didn’t know to worry about the monthly bills.  We didn’t know to worry about stress from work, or relationships.  In that moment of innocent play, we just were.  Right there in the moment, and all the world was perfect.

I challenge you this week to go out on your motorcycle and play.  Call some of your rider friends, and ask them if they can “Come out to Play with you”.  What fun you may have!!!!

If you enjoyed the podcast, thanks in advance for telling your friends.  Until we visit again, I wish you peace, I wish you love!