Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Motivation is a funny thing. You can have it, and if all goes well you can keep it. If any one thing goes wrong you can easily lose it. Once you've lost it, it is so very hard to obtain it again.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance defines "Gumption" as, well, you really should read it yourself. But in short, "Gumption" is that motivation that keeps a job on schedule, keeps you interested, keeps you doing your work because you WANT to. "Gumption Traps" are those obstacles you run into that can ruin your whole day. That one stripped screw that turns a whole machine into a non-running eyesore in your garage.

I'd like to propose the term "Gumption Primer." As in something that would give your Gumption that boost to start up again, continue on, make you enjoy your work again. And I now firmly believe that working cooperatively with another person, perhaps on a separate project, can be a good Gumption Primer.

The Nighthawk project has hit various levels, and with the latest round of wiring and carb work, I do believe I fell into one of the worst Gumption Traps I know of personally - an incomplete job. The carbs were not mounting correctly, the choke was still a little stuck, and the wiring... it seemed to be working, but something was still off. And due to time constraints, I had to walk away from the job.

And I didn't want to go back.

Over the weekend, I discovered a genuine Gumption Primer, as I witnessed Jason kick over and finally start the CL Project. As I saw the minimal machine finally come to life, and what it took to make it happen, the Nighthawk suddenly took on a whole new light: something that could work. I just needed to put enough time and the proper work into it.

When I got home I pulled the bike out of the corner of the garage and took a fresh look at it. There was a reason the wiring wasn't "quite" right, the taillight was incorrectly wired. Instead of forcing the carbs into place, I removed them and started over, making sure not to force it, but take my time and put them in correctly.

After a lot of conscious effort and care, I took a step back and realized: it worked. The bike is more-or-less together.

Now to get that battery into shape (another long story), and try to feed some gas into the machine.

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