Living outside the lines
by Jennifer Cohron
Sep 29, 2013 | 1188 views | 0 0 comments | 98 98 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jennifer Cohron
Jennifer Cohron
As I watched Wyatt do a little coloring one night, I noticed his strokes were quite erratic. In fact, they stretched from one end of the page to the other.

“Try to stay in the lines,” I urged.

“Why?” he asked. (Yes, he is in that stage now.)

I started to answer but found myself at a loss for words.

The only explanation I could come up with was “Because you’re supposed to.” I decided that if that was the best I could do, then I needed to give this rule some more thought before enforcing it.

Where do the ones who establish these arbitrary lines get the authority to tell the rest of us to stay in them? And what harm do we really do if we dare to disobey?

Zac, Wyatt and I have visited some pretty neat places this week while we’ve been on vacation. In a sense, each one was a memorial to those who changed the world by venturing beyond the lines that confined their times.

Our first stop was the American Village at Montevallo.

It was like taking a trip to the early days of our nation’s history.

We witnessed colonists rail against the Stamp Act and heard Thomas Jefferson expound on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We walked up to the backdoor of Washington Hall, which was inspired by George Washington’s beloved Mount Vernon, and ran into the Founding Father himself preparing to leave his home behind to take his place as America’s first president.

These stories are so familiar to us that I think we forget what a radical thing these men did when they decided to tell their king what he could do with his crown.

Surely there were those who said, “It’s too risky,” but sometimes the uncertainty of life lived outside the lines is preferable to the perceived injustices that occur within them.

One of our other stops was the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum.

I never imagined it would be possible to dedicate five floors to the history of motorcycles.

Of the hundreds that we saw, the one that intrigued Zac was an 1867 Roper steam velocipede.

It is believed to be the first two-wheeled motorcycle. Its top speed was 40 miles per hour.

It was invented by Sylvester Roper of Boston, Mass., who built his first steam engine when he was 14 and drove a steam carriage in the city around 1863.

The engine of this nifty little bike was a steam powered twin cylinder with a coal-fired boiler. To modern observers, it looked very much like Mr. Roper might have been transporting a keg of beer around Boston.

Zac also found it interesting that the “safety cycle” chassis that Roper developed is still in use today.

My favorite part of the museum was the replica of the 10-foot by 15-foot shed that served as the first Harley Davidson factory.

Bill Harley and brothers Arthur and Walter Davidson built their first motorcycle there in Milwaukee, Wisc., in 1903. The shed was eventually moved to the new Harley Davidson factory and was mistakenly destroyed years later because its significance had been forgotten.

The plaque near the replica we saw called it “a tribute to three men whose vision created what became ‘The American motorcycle.’”

A divine right to liberty? Craziness. Bikes propelled by engines? Absurd. And don’t even speak of men flying through the air like birds or zooming off to the moon.

Yet, all of these things were proven possible by individuals who refused to let their creativity be stifled by a few arbitrary lines.