I love motorcycles. Always have for some reason. I’m not sure if it’s the danger aspect that comes along with them, or the romantic notion that they seem to carry. Either way, one carries me to work on nice days for less fuel expense than my other vehicle. It carries me to share a meal on weekends with my favorite people. Motorcycles carried me, along with my father and brother, on a two week, 1,500-mile plus excursion across the nation several years back, which is one of my fondest memories of time spent with those two members of my family. The one I own now carried my brother on a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming a few years back, with my wife and me in tow on a different bike. What a great trip that was. I spent a week last month during spring break cruising around the hill country in south Texas, enjoying the countryside and my fists in the wind. If you’ve never experienced it, then you probably don’t get it.
So I made this piece on a cold winter day, while thinking about riding when the weather changed. It was intended to be a gift, but it’s growing on me, and like most of my art, will probably end up living in my house for awhile. It happens.
Get on your bikes and ride.
The more often I venture out into the public world around me, the more I simply want to go home. This probably makes me sound like a grumpy old man, and that’s okay. I may be. But living in a large metropolitan area has broken me of ever wanting to go out among the masses. The more people around, the more ridiculousness abounds. Everyone’s in a hurry, with no where really to go. Selfishness has become the national pastime, whether it’s in the mall, or on the highway, or seated in a restaurant. People act like they were raised by wild animals somewhere in the woods. Selfies are the number one goal of any outing, apparently. Instead of living a life, let’s custom design a few staged moments where we look happy and publish them online for the world to see so we can feel good about ourselves. I don’t get it. I don’t want to get it.
So, I just stay home. I like it there, and the growing horde of morons that make up this metro area are nowhere to be found. And it turns out that all of the people I truly want to spend any amount of time with are there anyway. My wife is the smartest, funniest, most kind person I know. Our kids have turned out to be pretty decent human beings, which is all I could ever have asked for. Our extended family members are many miles away, but always a welcome sight. There are a few prized friends who are exceptions, and they know who they are, but for the most part it’s home and family for me. Which, in truth, is probably better for the general public as well.
wisdom (wiz-duh m), noun …the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action
A lot of things seem to be going by the wayside lately. Chivalry is dying, if not already dead. Our environment is second to our profit margins. Stupid is now smart, as long as stupid agrees to be so. Right and wrong have given way to beneficial or otherwise. So, wisdom is sure to be next. In fact, I was all but sure it was already gone.
Then I met Ed.
Spent a week with him, in fact, discussing something that I thought I already knew how to do. And I am all the better for it. You see, Ed hasn’t given up on wisdom. He doesn’t see it as something he worked hard for, and now keeps to himself. If you read the definition above you see that wisdom is knowing… and also doing. Knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action. Without the doing, the knowing isn’t wisdom. Without the knowing, what you are doing is wasting your time. And Ed has spent a great deal of his life sharing what he knows, to enable others to know… in order that they can do. A simple act that goes unappreciated in this world where dollar bills have become king. And as he shares what he knows, he has a knack for taking total strangers and making them enjoy each other’s company. Another fading skill. So I made this one for Ed… to say thank you for his wisdom. The Chinese symbol for wisdom, which to me looks like a person holding a key that unlocks the lock below. A fitting symbol for wisdom. Because to me, wisdom is the key that unlocks…
…everything. The knowing, and the doing. We have far too many know-it-all’s and do-nothings, and we need to change that. It was uplifting to see a guy who is trying to do just that.
Thanks again, Ed.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers-
That perches in the soul -And sings the tune without the words -And never stops – at all -And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard -And sore must be the storm -That could abash the little Bird-That kept so many warm -I’ve heard it in the chillest land -And on the strangest Sea -Yet – never – in Extremity, It asked a crumb – of me.
When I asked my wife which word she wanted to adorn her high school English and journalism classroom, she chose “hope,” and cited the first line from the poem above. Considering that she is busy teaching the next generation of young writers and journalists who will seek the truth from our blossoming government propaganda machine, and hopefully speak truth to power in the process, I would say she chose the right word.
The “journalists” we are most likely to see these days are not interested in the truth so much as they are the ratings that their groveling gets them. The search for truth is more a search for the gold these days. There are those that continue to try and let us know what is really going on, but they are up against a machine that wants only to tell people what they want to hear from whichever camp they are firmly nested within. People that use words like always and never, which don’t actually apply to anything in reality. The news media used to inform us as to the important aspects of life in the country that we needed to know to make intelligent decisions in the voting booth, or in financial matters. Now, the media has become the property of those who need to make their money off of our decisions, and they now use the media to this end. It is for entertainment purposes only.
This generation of high school kids may indeed be our last hope at redeeming our news organizations to their prior status. Otherwise, they may be the last generation that finds it necessary to learn the definition of the word “truth.”
We have somehow come to a place in this country where stupid is the new smart. Where lies are the the new truth. Where being uninformed by facts is acceptable, as long as we’re bombarded by opinions that mirror our own. It’s beyond comprehension to me. We have become a people who seem to be afraid of intelligence, so we seek the comfort of being surrounded by a total lack of it. Lies are okay, because they don’t scare us as much as the truth. Fear is a warm scarf we wear proudly around our neck, even though facts don’t bear out that thing we’re afraid of is actually affecting us. Growing up, logic always seemed like the important factor, so sometimes now I feel like I’m walking on the moon.
So, in the process of practicing this leather hobby, I’m attempting to create some wall hangings that include words that matter to people. Sometimes you can tell a lot about a person by the words that matter to them most. And sometimes, you can see the lack of humanity in a person by the fact that words mean nothing to them at all.
Words and their meanings still matter. A lie is still a lie, regardless of the opinion from which it originates. There are no “alternative facts” that are actually facts. When someone uses their words to tell us the sort of person they are, we may want to believe them. And their words.
The first thing I learned about spending time on this leather hobby is that you better have a comfortable place to plop your backside while you do it. Because you are going to be there awhile. It has to be the proper height. The right size. With a bit of give, but not too much. If your feet are too high or too low, there will be numbness followed by needles. None of which make it much fun. But the odds of finding this specific saddle for the ride that would perfectly match the table I built were slim and none. So I built one.
There is art in everything, and in nothing at all.
I love leather. I love the look and feel of it; the smell; the color. Always have. Saddles, belts, boots and chaps… they all give you a feeling of something more than the plastic, throw-away crap that everything seems to be made of in our lives today. Organic, for you leaf eaters, I guess. When I was young, I daydreamed of spending my time in a saddle shop, smelling wood and leather and pipe smoke. Tooling away all day at the task of making a saddle that would be the daily throne of Sam Elliot or Tom Selleck. And their mustaches. Or perhaps it would carry Augustus McRae across the prairie to Montana. Or get spit on by Josey Wales. Tom Horn would want it to be simple, and the Duke the same, I reckon.
It seems to be a dying art in this world where everything is outdated as soon as it hits the store shelves. Everything mass produced by a twelve year old malaysian girl who has basically been made a slave to boost profits. And it takes time. Each piece is the result of thousands of small taps from a hammer, and multiple steps in the process that produces the final product that takes me back in time. No, I don’t wish to make America great again, in case that’s where you think this is going. And I’m not nostalgic for all things old and white. I simply appreciate the art form, and the medium. And even more so those who have perfected it.
I may never live long enough to be one of those folks, but I’m going to give it a try. It’s cold outside, and the metal sculpture can’t very well be done in the living room, so I’m taking up the indoor work bench for a spell and dreaming of days on horseback. And banging away at the leather maul to see what happens.
I still have to smoke my pipe outside. Because dying ain’t much of a livin’… boy.