My name is Dan Zinn. I’m 26 years old, an avid — yet beginner — motorcycle rider, and finishing up a year long assignment in Beijing, China working for one of the world’s top IT companies.
How I got to this point in my life I honestly don’t know. I had dreams. Big dreams. Dreams of being an astronaut, dreams of being a fireman, dreams of inventing some ridiculous contraption that solved world hunger. During my senior year at Cornell I even made a bet with friends that I would take up bowling. If I could find a way to average 200 pins per game before graduation I would quit the job I had yet to start and instead focus on joining the professional bowling association.
In the end, these dreams of mine didn’t come to fruition, but new dreams continued to pop up. That’s the beauty of being able to dream. But following one of the largest economic disasters in world history, I began to wonder how much dreaming people my age could really afford to do. Many of my friends are without jobs and struggling to pay off the enormous debt they amassed during undergrad and grad schools. I’ve been lucky enough to have had a well paying job since graduating, but I know most of the country’s young adult population has not been so fortunate.
After living in China and getting a sense for the kind of despair and uncertainty certain governmental policies can produce, I’m ready to come home to “the land of the free and the home of the brave” and see for myself how free and brave it still is. I want to go out in search of the American Dream, or at least what’s left of it, and see how people my age are dealing with the unique challenges our generation has been tasked to deal with.
To do so, I plan to follow one more dream of mine by riding an American icon, a Harley Davidson, around the country for the three months leading up to the 2012 presidential election. Along the way, I will stop at some of the world’s most influential cities, some of the smallest towns on the map, and everything in between. I will travel from NY to Seattle, down to San Diego, out to Key West and finally back up to NY.
One thing I’ve learned in China is that you have to say “yes” to new experiences and see where things take you. As Robert Frost wrote in his famous poem The Road Not Taken, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” With this as my motto, during the trip, whenever it comes down to making a decision on where to go or what to do next, I will boil it down to two options and flip a coin. Whichever it lands on is the way I will travel next.
Ultimately, I want to hear what America’s next generation of leaders – The Millennial Generation, Generation Y, Generation Next… my generation – is saying about our future. I will talk to people. Get a sense for what they’re doing. Work odd jobs even. Do whatever it takes to meet people who have a different mindset and people that I hope still have that dream alive in them to make something more of themselves and of our country, even in the face of such a difficult and trying time in our history.
Join me as I take to the road on the steal horse I will ride, as I venture out West and back again, and see what the young adults of America have to say and offer to this great and vast country of ours.