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October 26, 2010

Passion for Work and Motorcycling

Nick Diaz

One question I have asked many times in my professional teaching career: “What do you want to do when you get out of high school?”


It is not surprising that the answers range from, “I don’t know,” to “I want to major in pre-med, with a minor in pre-law and underwater basket weaving.” The truth is that many of our young people have no idea what they want to do when they grow up.


While there are some who think they know, I always find the manner in which they make the decision to be very interesting.


I recently asked one of my former students what she wanted to do. “I want to major in accounting and minor in music,” she said.


Of course, the teacher in me asked the next logical question, “Why do you want to be an accountant?”


“Because I like math and my dad is an accountant,” she responded.


It strikes me, however, that liking math and having a dad who is an accountant are not necessarily prerequisites to being a good accountant.


After all, I like law and politics, and my father was heavily involved in legal and political counseling in our native Cuba; yet that doesn’t make me a good lawyer or politician.


It seems to me that we should choose a career path in some area in which we are passionate. I believe my former student was more passionate about music than she was about accounting; however, society would encourage her to pursue accounting because it is held in higher esteem…and you make more money.


When a student tells me he wants to go into medicine because doctors make lots of money, I tell him I don’t want him to be my doctor. I want my physician to be passionate about healthcare and his patients.


It seems as if young people often make decisions based on someone else’s choice, or they’re influenced by status and money. Of course, if my former student is passionate about accounting as a profession, I will be right there in the cheering section, supporting her every effort.


* * * * * * * * * *


The Passion of a Lifetime” is the title of a piece I wrote for almost three years ago.


No, the topic was not math education, or my national origins. It was motorcycling. That’s my passion, since the spring of 1970, 40 years and over half a million miles.


Spring and Fall are, by far, the most enjoyable times to spend on a motorcycle.


Spring – because the dreaded winter is over, renewal is in the air, and the trees have no leaves, allowing the rider to see for miles and miles – looking out for deer and such critters.


Fall – because the dreaded summer is over. Sounds strange to people that a motorcyclist is glad that July and August are finished.


Yet it’s true! Most of us two-wheeled old timers despise riding in the summer heat, particularly the heat of 2010. Day after day in the 90’s and triple digits – not much fun, particularly while sitting on top of a hot engine, in a full-face helmet, dripping sweat.


Yes, some of us in the “Between-the-Sheetz Gang” put a few miles on our machines this summer; yet the rides consisted of getting together early in the morning and quitting before the heat of the day, which arrived as early as 10 A.M.


Not fun. Give me Fall any time.


As I write this it is October 23rd. With a week left in the month, I’ve already cracked more miles on my Yamaha than I did in all of July.


Last weekend, eight of us in the BTS Gang rode out to Marietta, OH, on a three-day, 900-mile ride.


Why Marietta? What is there in Marietta that attracted us enough for us to spend two nights at a motel?


There’s nothing in Marietta, except a liberal arts college by that name. So, why Marietta?


For the roads! The roads in southeastern Ohio provide some of the best entertainment for the road-riding soul anywhere east of the Mississippi. These roads are smooth, curvy, scenic, and practically deserted, except for the occasional local farm pickup or tractor. The colors of Fall, contrasted with the blue skies, made them even more spectacular.


For the road-addicted motorcyclist, the road is the destination.  The road is the end, not the means.


The “invisible roads” I’ve often written about in these columns – the spell of these invisible roads –are irresistible.


One of the eight, a rider from the Annapolis area, expressed his romanticized view of our trip as follows:


“…a magnificent path of travel. Twisting mountain asphalt. Scenery viewed from the seat of a motorcycle. This sort of thing is good for the soul. I can't imagine ever growing tired of it.


“On the brakes and pitching it in on corner entry. Opening the throttle and accelerating out of each and every apex – thousands over the course of three days.


“Feeling the tempo of the engine and the joy of gear engagement. Placing absolute trust in two tires’ contact patch.


“Other riders and machines in full view add to the visual thrill. No amusement park can match this stuff.


“An accomplished group of riders who work well together. Off the bikes, a group camaraderie that is fun to be around. I am delighted to be a part of it all.”


Good-bye, summer.  Welcome, Fall.


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