Lessons Learned from My Best Friend

Devils Tower, Wyoming, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
No regrets!

Tom was my golfing buddy, not my riding buddy, even though once he moved from Miami, Florida to Dahlonega, Georgia he took up riding again.

Tom sold his business and house in Miami and retired to Dahlonega, but more with the thought of such a decision would help him take care of his wife who was ill.

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Back in the day, the sixties, Tom lived in Ohio with his parents. He was the stereotypical biker back then: long hair, rode with a denim jacket, smoked a lot of weed, listened to Led Zepplin, would drop acid and ride his motorcycle.

He rode from Ohio to California many times on the spur of the moment. He would jump on his Honda CB 750 that must have felt like a kid’s bike for his tall and lanky six foot plus frame, and ride until he got tired. When it was time to sleep, he would find a nice patch of grass under a shady tree, lay down his blanket, and get some shuteye.

I’ve heard a lot of stories like that from those that rode back in the day, and needless to say it results in me having an ear-to-ear smile and repeating the phrase “that’s crazy.” Times sure have changed.

At some point, Tom became Mr. Corporate, was married twice and had children, and lived the suburban lifestyle. The long hair was gone and replaced with male pattern baldness, no more drugs, drove an SUV, and his motorcycle riding googles were replaced with prescription eyeglasses. But, I still loved to hear his stories.

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One weekend he drove down from Georgia and I drove up to Saint Augustine, to live out our dream of playing the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra. It was a weekend of lots of golf, beer, and talking about the glory days.

After a round of golf, I heard him struggling for air and when asked what that was about, he replied that his doctor had said his neck bone was brushing up against his windpipe, or something like that, making it difficult for him to breath. I said that sounded like b.s. and to go check it out.

A couple of months later, Tom called and said I was right; it was something more. It was lung cancer! Tom had stopped smoking twenty years earlier. It was maybe six months later and my best friend was gone.

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I miss Tom greatly. When I play golf, sometimes when I hit a good shot, I say out loud, “Tom, I would have kicked your ass today.” If it is a bad shot, then I say “Tom, go f— yourself!”

Even though Tom was maybe twenty-five years older than me, we were best friends. And because of our friendship, I learned many lessons from him whether directly or indirectly. The most important lesson of all; just do it.

When Tom sold his business and home, he was living comfortably financially. Within a couple of years, his Social Security benefits would kick in, and at $2,500 plus, that was more than enough since he didn’t need the money at that point. In addition, his ninety-five year old mother had $2 million in Boeing stock that he would soon inherit.

Tom looked into the future excited. But, the future never came.

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So, why did I write this? So that maybe you can learn a lesson. No matter how much money and success you have, you will never accomplish every goal and dream of yours. We simply do not have enough time on earth to do so.

If you want to ride more, than just do so. Find the time, even if it is a quick ride after work.

If you dream of riding a motorcycle, go out and buy one.

If you dream of riding your motorcycle cross-country, then do it! I promised myself that when I turned forty years old, I would trade in my Honda Goldwing and get a Honda Vtx 1800. I did. I also promised myself that I would go to Sturgis. Short on time, my friend and I towed our motorcycles to Nebraska and rode to the rally, spending a week riding through the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.

At some point in my life, I made the decision that I would ride cross-country and return to Sturgis when I turned fifty years old. Then I asked myself why did I have to wait till I was fifty? Instead, I rode every single mile on my VTX three years later. I camped in eighteen different states over a twenty-five day period. At times, I can’t believe I did that, and I’m glad I did.

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Do I have regrets? Yes! I regret not doing all of this earlier. But, I’ve learned my lesson. And if you don’t go out and purse your dreams, you will have regrets as well. Would you rather have stories to tell about your first motorcycle or your cross-country trip, or regrets?

This blog just ended, so it is time to put your dreams into action.

MC Atty

 

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