By Michael Stodola Special to Published May 11, 2011 at 10:21 AM

As culture hounds, we're fascinated by corporate America – or at least what goods they have tossed out to the masses. Mega products like the iPhone, the Mini Cooper or the Black Eyed Peas have such power, they blur the lines between individuality and conformity. Do you own an iPhone because you did the research and found it met your needs, or because it was the hottest accessory going?

Odds are it was a little from column "A" and little from column "B."

But, how do we reconcile our love for what's hot with living an authentic life? And are there deep, meaningful truths within the uber-products we worship?

Like many 40-something males, I witnessed the midlife crisis and fed it a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. For this, I received both congratulations as well as grief.

"How typical," was a comment heard from a co-worker.

In the examination of that judgment, I asked myself if my purchase was truthful and for the right reasons, or if I was just "keeping up with the Jones'."

The answer comes quickly every time I sit on my bike. There's something so deeply true here. The machine, the wind, the road and the sound of the H-D "potato." It seems simple no matter what brand of cycle you ride.

I'm re-reading Robert M. Pirsig's 1974 novel, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values," and he speaks of finding truth:

"The truth knocks on your door and you say,
Go away, I'm looking for the truth,
and so it goes away."

So, I'm not going to make this complicated. I'm hitting the road. Tomorrow morning at 8 a.m., a group of bikers and I are heading for Nashville, Tupelo, Memphis and St. Louis. And over the next five days, I hope to discover a little truth. What makes a road trip so satisfying? What makes it better on a motorcycle? And what makes the Harley-Davidson brand so strong?

Where there's exhaust, there's fire.

We're on the road for a full day tomorrow through rain, shine, Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville and Nashville.

Am I nervous? Hell, yes. But a little more excited to see what's over the next hill.

Michael Stodola Special to
Michael Stodola is the Creative Director at Boelter + Lincoln – a Milwaukee advertising agency. He loves his job, but not as much as he loves scuba diving, crab cakes or playing with his kids. His favorite thing is sneaking off for dates with his hottie wife. Born and raised in Nebraska, he’s been calling Milwaukee home for well over 10 years. After Michael’s impending death, he’d like to return to this world as your next American Idol®.