Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Looking At The Bigger Picture

motorcycle temperature gauge
Highway 93 runs south through the Great Basin of Nevada connecting the desert towns of Wendover, Ely, and Pioche before finally emptying it's contents into the neon oasis of Las Vegas.

I watched the temperature gauge on the ST climb up to 107 as I headed south from Wendover. Past Highway 489 and Telegraph Peak, as the July sun crested its afternoon rise, the heat continued to mount. 108 then 109 then 110.

Storm clouds were visible on the horizon, and it seemed like a cooling down was in order, but I did not know if the 93 would take me into it.

By the time I reached Ely, I caught just the tail end of the passing storm heading southwest, away from my direction. No rain fell, but I managed to enjoy a drop in temperature from 111 to 102.

I couldn't help but feel cool in 102 degrees F. I had never known such a temperature to feel so relieving. Any other moment, 102 degrees would make a ride miserable.  Yet at this moment, it made my ride a pleasure.

Relief, as with everything else, is relative.

It's like celebrating victory in a battle while still losing the entire war. Our perception is skewed when we look at things from the ground level. It's only when we can look at the bigger picture that we can see our real situation.

Imagine being kidnapped, blindfolded, and driven 50 miles to a hideout. Then you were put into a basement, with just sliver of daylight from a tiny, ground-level window. They only feed you one peanut-butter sandwich per day with a glass of water.

But one day they gave you two peanut-butter sandwiches as a reward for cooperating with their demands. You feel rewarded for the extra food, and know that you won't feel so hungry sleeping at night. Somehow, for just a brief moment, you forget that you're a prisoner, and feel grateful for your bounty.

Politics is often like this.

All that really matters is that we're protected from invaders, that we're free to pursue our dreams, and that food and shelter are plentiful. And yet the battle over the Healthcare Reform Act (aka Obamacare) can draw such high emotions on both sides of the argument, that people get angry at each other, they cry, and friends become enemies. Yet for a moment, they lose sight of the fact that they're still living in the safest, wealthiest, and strongest country in the world.

Even in relationships, we fight over petty things. Lost in the argument is that two people have such trust in each other to share their most guarded opinions. We often forget how lucky we are just to have a lover to share our secrets with.

The ability to look at the bigger picture helps us to gain a clearer perspective and prevents us from feeling hurt about our situation. As bad as we often find ourselves, there's always people on the other side of the world who have it really bad.

US Highway 93, south side of White Horse Pass, Nevada

There are people who commit suicide who were still getting their Caramel Macchiato every morning.

The same with kids in public schools, getting free lunches on the government dole, and tossing their uneaten apples into the trash.

The small patches of green clover on the side of the highway are often not noticed until you step off the motorcycle, point your camera to the horizon and see how its color adds beauty to the photograph.

Someone will pray to God that they'll ace the job interview and get hired, but God will look at their situation and compare it to someone else in Ethiopia who no longer has the strength to swat flies from his face.

And when God doesn't answer our prayers, do we lose faith in God?  Do we become angry?

It's hard to see how good or bad your situation is when you're looking at it from the ground up. But as it turns out, this is the perspective that we base our emotions on. It's at this level we measure our fulfillment.

As it turns out, that drop in temperature was only short-lived. South of Ely, the skies were clearing up. As I continued down Highway 93, the temperature rose again, and by the time I reached Las Vegas that evening, Blackbird and I were back in 111 degree temps.

I guess I should have looked at the bigger picture and saw that I was still in the desert.



  1. Mmmmm. peanut butter.

    Interesting perspectives. It really is all relative.

    Just like all the girls we've kissed at family reunions...

  2. Or step siblings who had sex as teens, right Dan?

    Highway, you're so right! In the midst of an argument with some distant relative, we want to hold our ground. The truth is, they don't see our reality, and don't care. Just as we don't care about theirs. Just because they've found solace in their religious beliefs, they cannot comprehend why their value structure is meaningless to us.

    A man who has been starved for acceptance his whole life may settle for a miseable family (one sandwich) for awhile. But eventually he finds the door, the way out, to greener pastures. It's a big damn world out there. Lots to see, do, learn. Firghtened, misearble, controlling monsters want to keep a wanderer from seeking new and better opportunities.

    Don't let misery stand in you're way now that you have perspective and see them for the miserable monsters that they are.

  3. Dear Steve:

    I am assuming you wore full body armor and Kevlar on this run. I am shortsighted to the point where 102º and 109º are about the same to me. How the walls are painted in hell lose meaning (to me) when the temperature climbs over 88º. I have a few limitations that have slammed my riding at the moment. But I intend to spit in fate's eye and ride in the direction you have taken in some of these pictures. Would you like me to ad your blog site to mine?

    Fondest regards,

  4. @Jack, Nope, t-shirt, jeans, and sun screen, except when I'm around someone who calls me "squid", then I get all butt-hurt and embarrassed. Yeah, add me to your blog.


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)