The Ballad of an Easy Rider

By Jim Sollecito

Sign at Sollecito Landscaping Nursery. Courtesy of Michael Davis.
Sign at Sollecito Landscaping Nursery. Courtesy of Michael Davis.

There was a time in my life that I rode motorcycles. Lots of them. For about 15 years.

I had watched the movie “Easy Rider” and was hooked. The music, the roar of the bikes, the apparent freedom of the open road were all alluring. I felt like it was part of the fabric of American life. I drank in the fresh air — and sometimes a few bugs.

It seemed to be my path as I started with motocross bikes and transitioned up the ladder. As a college student I lived in denim, rode a bike, never even owned a car until after I graduated. That did not impress the parents of some of the girls I dated. In fact, it was a negative most of the time.

I rode in Italy, in California and a lot of states between our shining seas. My favorite was a black and gold British Triumph 650 Bonneville. A good friend and I rebuilt it, so it became a balanced fast-moving terrestrial rocket. All great except when it rained. Plus, it didn’t provide a clear route to legally paying the bills. Hard to balance shrubs or a few tools on the seat. You get the idea.

In a profession based on pickups and larger-sized trucks my days of two-wheel travel diminished. I needed the right transportation for my work and that was indisputable. So I transitioned into vehicles with four wheels and a dump box. I hung up my jacket and helmet permanently. My career took off. Life is all about choices and the growth that accompanies them.

When I tell you we will do landscaping for a certain price by a certain date, I hold that to be a sacred bond. Despite bumps in the road, we still find a way to get it done. I hold accountable the people who work with me. And the world will hold them accountable as they move on.

I find it troubling that many millennials seem so quick to quit their jobs, walk away with no notice, and no concern about the trail they leave behind. Many of my fellow small business owners, in fact each and every one I have personally interviewed, also observe this trend. The pervasive lack of work ethic is concerning.

It’s a winding road to positive experience and it includes mistakes. We learn from them. Insight and perspective can be expensive but are necessary components to growth. A person might have to try out a few jobs before finding the right career match. The experiments might be challenging but are a vital part of the trip. So we complete the experiment, see it through to the end. And when it’s time for a job change, it’s important to communicate professionally and give notice.

If you are reading this article, chances are you have persevered through a long string of difficult events that life threw at you. You didn’t quit. You found a way through it. Keep setting that example. We are the road signs and street lights that show those that will inherit our earth how to keep on trucking. Because, really, through life is the only way to go.

Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in NYS. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 468-1142 or