Streets of Sturgis

From Sturgis

I’m writing this morning from Sturgis, South Dakota where hundreds of thousands of avid bikers are riding their Harleys and Indians toward the Black Hills for a 10-day Rally. They’ve been doing it for 78 years. But I’m doing the unthinkable. I’m leaving as they arrive.

Normally we gravitate toward a growing crowd. We rubberneck as we drive by a highway accident, slowing traffic for the rest of rush hour. We run toward a fire to see what is burning. If a fight or a riot breaks out, people can be seen running toward the action as if they already know what is going on and plan to join the fray.

Usually we are completely ignorant of why people are gathering. I found myself asking, “What are we rallying for?” as bikers began to gather and pitch tents in the front yards of Sturgis. Whether we understand the reason or not, we insist on gathering.

So why would I leave this morning? We came to see lifelong friends and Mount Rushmore. Staying with friends and driving an hour or so to local attractions for a few days was better served by beating the heat of the Rally and noise of the Harleys. I love motorcycles. My friends ride. I just wanted to experience the peace and quiet of the Black Hills with a half million fewer fellow Americans around.

Teaching our children to care about their fellow man and the meaning of this great nation in which we reside takes wisdom. We should walk toward the crowds at times and walk away from them at others. I couldn’t help but notice the toddler who accompanied his much larger dad walking the streets of Sturgis last night. I wondered for a bit about what those young eyes might see over the next few days but dad clearly wanted his boy to experience the Rally at Sturgis early. What dad loves, dad shares.

That’s not a bad practice. Sharing our interests is part of the joy of parenting. We teach what we know and understand. Our children learn best from our wide eyes and excited speech. We can’t share what we are bored by; we share best what we passionate about. On an important but much more mundane level, I am reminded of Dr. Charles Fay’s insistence that the best way to potty train our children is to model it with great excitement and enthusiasm. A few “woo-hoo’s” from the bathroom will apparently get our toddlers on the pot much faster than shame and threats.

I admit I’m a little ashamed to write from Sturgis. I should be joining the party. But alas, my own kids, grandkids and parents call me toward other states. I’m sure I won’t be missed.

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