By Stephen Doherty
May 31st, 2020
“Roads were made for journeys..not destinations!” -Confucious
For me, one of the most memorable lines in movie history came from Animal House. The wild leaders of the debaucherous and raucous Delta Tau Chi fraternity house–when faced with pending doom and disaster, calmly looked at each other and came up with a (temporary) solution to their pending plight. “ROAD TRIP!!” From that moment forward, packing up and taking off became an accepted, even preferred, therapy for much of what ails us. There is something cathartic about that gap between “here and there” that we all romanticize about but seldom seize. Personally, I think there IS no higher form of relief or rejuvenation than the open road on a motorcycle. For me–that’s the definition of Heaven.
In four weeks, I am going to load up my Harley with tent and sleeping bag and a few changes of socks and underwear for a two-week journey up and through Chicago, onward to Mackinac Bridge and into Canada through northern Michigan and then circling Lake Superior before threading my way back home through the northern states. I will be accompanied by three friends who I have known since I was twelve years old. We have toured parts of America several times together and the comradery was every bit as special as the scenery. We are bound together by our shared childhood experiences that, somehow, find us now exploring the latter parts of our lives with that same childhood zealousness and curiosity.
What makes this trip especially attractive for me is the double benefit of seeing the country from the top of a motorcycle coupled with the opportunity for fellowship with men I’ve known for over fifty years. Laughter around scattered campfires spread across weeks and thousands of miles is just about what the doctor ordered to combat the malaise and anxiety of our force-fed quarantine. Few things scream out “Freedom” like tallying a few thousand miles through the beauty of America’s northern states and Canada atop our mechanical steeds. Few things are more peaceful or calm than a tent and sleeping bag in the woods on the shores of a Great Lake.
“The Gap” is merely that distance between where you are and where you desire to be. It could be a tiny stretch of highway between here and someplace close but special. Or, it could be a journey involving traversing several countries and oceans to get you to “there.” It doesn’t matter. The important thing is going. The crucial decision is deciding to make the journey. Once committed, the anticipation of traveling “The Gap” becomes as exciting as the expedition itself-made more so by the fact that no two Gaps are alike. Socrates said that “To see more is to become more.” Obviously, who we travel with can add incredible dimension and richness to the trek. That said, do not discount the incredible benefits of the occasional solo journey. I have experienced some of my greatest epiphanies and introspection on lone tours.
I often worry that one of the biggest casualties of our current plight will be the diminished mental health of millions of Americans. We have been force-fed a lifetime of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty in just a few short months. We cannot take lightly our emotional recovery which is why I am so bullish on storming “The Gap” as the best tonic for our unprecedented sequestration. Just GO! We’ve just lost months of our lives to uncertainty, cultural upheaval, and economic calamity. Now is not the time to question whether or not going is a good idea. Now is the time to GO! In the words of the immortal Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore! Dream! DISCOVER!”
“Oh, the places you’ll go!” –Dr Suess