Sometimes Words Are Worth A Hundred Pictures
Article By: Chopper Charlie Weisel
Originally Published In The March 2017 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
I’ve been staring at the screen of my IPad for a while now, it’s what I use to write these articles. In fact, this is round 4 of trying to get this article started. My first attempt involved something about bitching about small gas tanks and the impracticalness of a lot of the bikes being built these days, and skinny jeans, please leave skinny jeans to skinny chicks. After going back and rereading what I had started I concluded that it was a bit negative and thought I ought to reel in my opinions a bit. I tend be rather opinionated and it gets me in trouble sometimes. But seriously, let’s give these “chopped” sportsters with 1 gallon tanks, skinny t-bars and razzle dazzle Easter egg paint jobs a rest. Plus, your sister is getting sick and tired of you stealing her lace underwear to use as a stencil for your gas tank. My second attempt was going to be something a I little more on the avant-garde side. Discussing the overabundance of technology, the surplus of photos taken and shared and how I thought maybe they unmotivated people to go explore on their own. I had this grand idea that if this article was run with white, empty squares where photos would normally be that it might get my point across. Don’t get me wrong, I love a quality photo, but I also think that some memories are better kept to yourself. Often an experience is so grand that it should not be shared. I do this often. Alone, on a stretch of road so breathtaking, I prefer to just stop, savor it and carry on. If anyone else wants to see it they will have to go find it for themselves. My third attempt was to extract a section of writing I’ve been working on outside this mag, a bit of a side project, a book I hope to publish at some point. I decided against that. So here I am, sitting on the couch, my dog asleep at my feet just watching the cursor blink. That annoying cursor that blinks in a way that seems to antagonize me, in a way that I wonder if it is intentionally trying to irritate me.
This time of year is unmotivating at best. It is cold, snowy and dark far too early in the day. A motorcyclist’s worst nightmare. Add in the fact that Kayla and I have taken adulting to a whole new level and suddenly I’m drawing nothing but a blank. My chopper is broken, still. We bought a house, immediately dove into a remodel on said house, work has been killing me and the BMW I bought sits parked waiting for my road to defrost. Oh, and the dog, though sleeping at this moment and has generally been a holy terror since she got spayed last week. Speaking of dogs, I’ve been toying with the idea of teaching her to ride on the back of the bike with me. You see, Kayla and I went round and round about even getting a dog. I was adamantly against it, Kayla was 100% for it. We have a dog now. In my mind it made absolutely no sense with our lifestyle of traveling, but she won that argument. Fortunately, it turns out this dog is pretty cool and most of the time I like having her around. Still the problem of what to do with her when we are gone, which is frequent. I hope to train her to ride on the back of the bike with me, should be interesting to see how that turns out. It the meantime, until the roads thaw, I find myself staring at photos on Instagram, not to live vicariously through someone else’s travels but to fuel the fire of my own. Photographs, a simple way of sharing a moment but no match to a well animated rocking chair story. Unable to truly capture the moment, photographs always leave me wondering. What happened before and after the picture was taken? What lies just beyond the field of vision?
I can’t seem to let go of this photograph idea. Were people more imaginative back in the old days before the Internet, social media and cameras? You know, back when stories were told both verbally and via print. It blows my mind, how accurate paintings and writings were at conveying an image or experience based solely on how a story was told. This topic is something I am fascinated with. It seems to me that the art of storytelling has been lost a bit due to the invention of advanced technology. These days it seems too easy to simply Google an image of something or someplace. As often as this is convenient and entertaining I think it is often a slap in the face to the image being photographed. How is a person supposed to experience the natural wonder of Niagara Falls through a photograph? There is certainly no way of experiencing the thunderous roar of the water crashing down hundreds of feet below its origination point. There is no way of experiencing the cold mist of the water floating through the air showering your face. It is impossible to truly experience these places without actually being there. I think the idea I am trying to portray is one of mystery. In a world where we can find photos of literally anything I wonder if it is slowly killing people’s desire to go find things on their own. Would people travel more if this were not the case? What if we had no idea what Nevada looked like?
Would we be more apt to make the cross-country ride to go see it? I think so, but I may be wrong. Now granted, there are thousands of extremely accomplished photographers that do an incredible job of capturing a moment in time, leaving us feeling like we are there. Most of us don’t and shouldn’t even attempt it. What is so wrong with harboring a moment for ourselves and only ourselves? Can we not experience something without feeling the need to share it? It’s almost as though we are so concerned with capturing what we are seeing on film that we have lost sight of what is most important. To capture the moment for ourselves. To savor every nuance. The sky was more blue, the oceans calm, birds and crickets chirped as the wind rustled through the spring grasses. The road, a smooth ribbon of black stretching into the horizon begging us to come hither. Not a car, a house or a person in sight. The moment is yours and yours only. Just man, machine and nature melding together in an almost spiritual moment. Everything is just right. These are the moments we don’t need to share in a picture. These are the moments we share with friends around a campfire. The stories that need to be told with passion and emotion, so that the recipient can join you in their minds. They can feel the briskness of the northerly wind on their face as you did. They can feel the soil under their feet as you did. Capture the moment in your head and share it with your words. I challenge you, the reader, to try this. The next time you find yourself in this situation, just stop, just stare. Take it in as if it is the last thing you will ever see. Experience every detail. Listen to the sound of the birds flapping wings, don’t just see it. Watch the wind blow, don’t just feel it. Life is in the details. And the cursor blinks on