The Last Generation to Look Out the Car Window

Are we 40-somethings the last generation of kids to sit and look out the car window? Will we be the last backseat-sitters to watch the world pass by – miles and hours at a time? We didn’t have portable DVD players, handheld-games or smartphones. We just sat there looking, imagining, dreaming. We read books and MAD magazine. How did we survive? How did we grow up to make things, think thoughts, write books or take photographs when all we were left to was our own devices?

With so much information bombarding my face each day (which is my own doing) I go through periods of needing to detox. Riding a motorcycle provides the best antidote for information overload. It also provides a kind of re-centering. The only thing that I can take in is whatever is right in front of me. I live in the moment. Ideas and thoughts are born of my own experience rather than being crammed in a megabyte at a time.

I seem to lose the path of my imagination when I don’t exercise the muscles that create something versus just consuming other people’s ideas. It can be hard to restart the process of getting to know myself when I have to recover from being overly-connected. But I suppose this is the new way of living. Passively experiencing alternating with making something happen. These two modes coming in fits and starts, trading back and forth.

Maybe one of the reasons that I feel my best when I’m out riding is that I’m always looking out the window of my visor.


Rachael is the whimsical writer behind the 20+ year old Girlie Motorcycle Blog. As a freelance blogger, she is on a mission to inspire laughter, self-examination, curiosity, and human connection. Girlie Motorcycle Blog can be found on several Best Motorcycle Blog lists.

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7 Responses

  1. Shybiker says:

    This is true and studies are confirming it. The way we used to live, before electronic distractions, fostered mental growth. Staring endlessly at a cellphone is harmful.

  2. Mike says:

    Oh I remember those days well and not only did I survive just looking out the car window or reading a book, but I thrived quite nicely. I refuse to be “connected” as much as most people seem to be. My phone is hardly used, G+ is the only social media I’m “on” and I research a lot on the ‘net – that’s it. I went for a morning ride today and as always, there was only the wind, some road noise and the humming of the engine. My own version some 50 years later – still just enjoying looking out the (bike) window.

  3. Steel says:

    I’m in my late 50’s and my children are millennials. When they were younger, we did a fair amount of traveling on the road, with me driving and the two of them seated in the back seat of the car. When I glanced at them in the rearview mirror, I noticed they were usually staring at their cellphone or playing with a Playstation…anything but looking out the window. When I suggest they take in the scenery, the response was always “Dad, that is sooo boring!” I also noticed many other traveling families had DVD players mounted in the headrests of the minivan front seat, so the kids in back could “catch a movie”.

    Until recently I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to grow up without such “luxuries”. When I explain to my children now how enjoyable it is for me just to ride out in the country, I get quizzical looks and I am told how “weird” that is.

  4. Ry Austin says:

    Riding is the most in-the-moment activity I’ve ever experienced. Sure, the mind wanders as it will, but that’s part of it; and often I ride with music, but that’s just an accessory, an enhancement–accompaniment. So much depends on each and every moment: what we notice about the road and our surroundings and our machines, and how our minds subconsciously calculate and execute the right responses and slight adjustments. Oh, how well we all know this–motorcycling is a meditation.

    I’m the youngest in my family, and as such, I was always forced to sit on the hump in the back seat of our ’72 Ford Pinto Squire wagon (oauwh-yeahhh!). The worst, though, was when–in cut-off jeans–we’d land on that naugahyde after the car had been sitting closed-up all day in the summer sun… FEEL THE BURN!!!

    Whenever I had the back seat to myself, I’d usually lie down and watch the roadside skyline out the windows, trying to guess where we were. Or–and I just remembered this–I’d watch the slow dips and sharp peaks of the power lines and imagine that I was miniature on a mini-motorbike doing tricks along those cables (and that was long before I was into motorcycles).

    Huh, that was a wild flashback… Thanks, Fuzzy. 😉

  5. RichardM says:

    Nice post. The only thing better than riding a motorcycle may be riding a bicycle. Things move by more slowly but it’s faster (and 4x more efficient calorie wise) than walking.

  6. Oz says:

    Very well said. I am in my 32 year in public education and I can see the changes in imagination, socialization… with the students. I am so glad I took my son on the motorcycle to a lot of places and he loves to ride his own now.

  7. Motoventures says:

    Great reminder of many wonderful memories looking out of many rear-seat windows as a kid. I think it’s what started my own wanderlust!

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