Once upon a time, you were a beginner.

You were super eager and excited, sure. Maybe you knew some things, but chances are that you didn’t know everything. If you were really smart, you were also able to admit that you didn’t know everything. And you were able to ask questions and learn and improve over time.

While this is RideApart (and me) talking, so I am most likely talking about motorcycles, what I’ve written above could just as easily apply to a lot of things. You may not be interested in any type of meditation, but there’s a concept that many philosophies borrow from Zen Buddhism called ‘beginner’s mind’. It’s valuable to consider here, because it’s about dropping any preconceived ideas you may have and coming at something like you’re brand new and excited to learn.

It might sound simple, but a lot of times, it’s not as easy as you might expect at first. It’s about fostering a sense of wonder and curiosity, as well as openness to considering new information. Not assuming you know everything (or maybe even, in some cases, anything). 

In other words, it’s the complete opposite of getting cranky with newbies. So stop it. 

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Seriously, Quit Being Grumps

Speaking as someone who’s been riding for almost two decades, it’s fair to say that I know a few things. Some I learned the easy way, and some the hard way. All of them, though, I learned through experience. You know, the thing that I have that a rider who just started yesterday doesn’t (well, that and some strongly held opinions about the state of moto gear for women, most likely).

I’d never say that I know everything, though, and I hope I’m never old and jaded enough that I do. As I hope has come across here by now, I’m a person who is naturally curious about things. I have questions, and I want to learn. I want to understand things that I didn’t before. If it’s something that I know a little bit about, in most cases, I’d be happy to learn even more.

Every once in a while in this industry, there’s a whole lot of hand-wringing about Why Aren’t The Youths™ More Interested In Motorcycling? While there are multiple reasons to consider, a particularly enduring one is their hallowed elders being jerks about beginners having (gasp) beginner questions, and then said beginners having the absolute audacity to write about their experiences. 

Seriously, how else are folks who are new to any aspect of motorcycling (or any other specialized interest) going to learn if they don’t ask questions? No one is a born expert. Wisdom is passed down, and a large part of that comes from having questions, initiating discussions, and above all, having the courage to admit when you don’t know the answer to something. Seeking out correct information instead of pulling whatever rancid nugget of nonsense you have floating around half-formed in your brain and passing it off as stone-cold truth is where it’s at, folks.

The Internet isn’t a textbook. You don’t need a PhD to write here, or to connect with other enthusiasts who love what you love. It’s a living, breathing thing, full of a wide variety of people with a multiplicity of life experiences. Just because someone writes a thing that is not specifically aimed at your personal life experiences doesn’t make it bad; it means that it is Not For You. Why waste your time moaning about it when you could be doing (or reading) something else that’s more up your alley? 

You’re not required to comment. But…

Why Not Try Supporting New Riders Instead?

Let’s go back to that whole ‘beginner’s mind’ thing. When you were a beginner, was someone a jerk to you? 

I hope not. But if they were, it’s still worth thinking about. If someone was undeservedly mean to you, tap into how that made you feel. Think about what you wish they’d said instead. Then, take that kinder, more informed approach the next time you encounter someone who’s new to your area of enthusiasm and knowledge. It could be motorcycles, it could be UTVs, it could be anything really. 

The mindset is the important thing here, rather than the specific area of interest.

Let’s grow the special interests that we’re enthusiastic about. Let’s not gatekeep. Instead, let’s welcome new people who are interested to learn. It’s the only way those things we love so much will keep growing, instead of fading away into forgotten memories. If you like motorcycling and other powersports, you’re good in our book. Let’s learn and share stories, not pick on someone else for not knowing it all. Here’s a not-so-secret secret: No one really knows it all, and anyone who tells you that they do is making it up as they go.

Don’t you want someone else to feel the same way about bikes that you do? If you do, then why would you try to put that fire out so soon? Instead, stoke it. Let it burn. Make a friend with different experiences than you have. Who knows; maybe you’ll learn something, too. 

So grab the marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers and make some room at the campfire.

Got a tip for us? Email: tips@rideapart.com