I have a friend. Surprising perhaps, but actually, yes I have a few. I’ve always reckoned that if someone claims to have lots of friends, they may well have none. Perhaps acquaintances are considered friends by some, but you find out quickly whom your true friends are and who are not when the chips are down. You need to be relied on at all costs, and vice versa. I have a few of those and of course they have me.
Jimmy is a buddy whom I have known over forty years. Anyone who can put up with me for that long is worth keeping in touch with. He’s also the same age I am and tonight as I write he’s setting up his tent somewhere in Northern Yukon. From here I can hear the whine and bump of bugs outside the thin fabric as he settles down to rest from a long day and recharges for the next one ahead. An avid and seasoned motorcycle dude, he has ridden his Suzuki DR650 toward Tuktoyuktuk.
Once he’s had a sip of Arctic Ocean he’ll turn southward to return home to Ladner, an entire trip intended to be completed in six weeks. Phew, there’ll be no moss on his wheels! You’ve seen other folks making videos about similar feats, but Jimmy and I are the same age. We’re firmly into our seventies. He has previously ridden a motorcycle all over the continent and also sailed several boats all over the Pacific. You can’t keep a good man down and…there’s a lovely wife who provides him with excellent ground support; long-suffering Donna.
I’ve been following Jimmys progress on Goggle Earth. Donna sends me his position on SPOT and I survey where he is. Tonight his wee tent is set up about fifty feet from a huge bear pile, right behind a blueberry bush. His next town will be Dawson City. I’ve noticed that just to the north is the place name of Off Leash Dog Park. In all of that vast wilderness that’s got to be the town for me!
As a young man I was deeply inspired by Francis Chichester, an Englishman in his mid-seventies who incidentally also had cancer. He had already become famous with global exploits in his tiny Tiger Moth biplane. Now in a newly-commissioned huge and hard-to-sail yawl he sailed off to go around the planet once again. Crews of younger men have since tried to re-create parts of the original voyage in that same boat. It beat them down until they had to head for port. It’s clearly all about attitude. I’m afraid mine is terrible at the moment. I don’t want to discuss issues here but I do want to thank the inspiration of folks like my friend Jimmy. My sense of mission in life is to create a little light in other people’s eyes. You’ve certainly done that for me amigo. Thanks!
By strange coincidence I stumbled on a YouTube video about a 94 year old man who still rides his fleet of Triumph motorcycles. He began racing Triumphs in 1952 (The year I was born) and became known as ‘Fast Eddie’. So he’s been riding all my life and is still going strong although he can barely walk out to his barn full of kick-start motorcycles. Inspiring!
There is no glory in vicarious adventure. No-one will ever be recognized for what they watched on television. You’ve got to get out there on your own and light your own little star. I can also state from personal experience that often there is a quiet courage in the business of simple daily living. As I get older and my body decomposes while yet I breath, like everyone else, I endure physical pain as well as the guilt and frustration about all the things I could have done differently. There is great anxiety about not being able to do what I want due to lack of funds. Still there are people who make excuses and those who get things done. The two seldom mix.
There are a lot of folks my age and younger in a similar situation. Trying to make it through the month on a tiny pension without ending up a little further in debt is an acheivement now. Bought a cabbage lately?
Inflation is when you pay fifteen dollars for the ten-dollar haircut you used to get for five dollars when you had hair.”
― Sam Ewing