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I took the plunge today and biked to our co-op for a couple of grocery items. My nine- year- old happily accompanied me. It was cold, 34 degrees and windy, really windy. But it was exhilarating too!
Biking it was less then a mile from our house to the co-op. If we had driven it would have been exactly a mile there. But there is an apartment complex and gate to a sidewalk we can get through on bike.
I also got to teach my daughter about biking on roads since at the main intersection to get to the co-op you have to take the lane (is that even the right way to say it?) to go straight and not be in the automobile right turn lane. No space really for bikes. HMMM could I convince the town to put markings there?
(I can not believe it’s the first day of spring.) But, I showed my daughter how to pump up her bike tires. She found this thrilling only when she realized how much faster she could go on tires that had the right amount of air in them.
My daughter loves her bike, it has gears. We bought it at a local bike shop and were able to trade in the one that was too small for her. I don’t love my bike which I bought at the same store. It’s just not that comfortable to ride. Maybe too far a reach? I don’t know. I do know my foot kicks my panniers off which makes me crazy and means I ride with my foot in the middle of the pedal, ridiculous. It also means I don’t really ride to work with my laptop in my bag either.
“Bicyling has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” Susan B Anthony, 1896 So, lets go ride a bike and emancipate ourselves and our planet from the excessively burning fossil fuels wrecking havoc with it.
I was talking with one of our elected town board members recently about a subject other than biking and what came out of my mouth was a phrase I had used before. It starts, “I am not a radical….” I am not. I have lived a very conventional life.
I am married to a man I love very much. We have two children we are raising together in a suburban home along with two cats and one dog. We eat dinner together almost every night and talk a lot to each other. (Actually, that may be the most radical part of our lives given current culture..) We go to church most Sundays. Okay, I work for a church. In many ways, we practice a lot of things that are upheld as conservative values.
This fall I drove with my son and some friends to attend the “Rally to Restore Sanity” in Washington DC. It was my son’s idea; he’s 15. Jon Stewart’s final words really got to me. (At the rally of course I didn’t really hear them, it was when I returned home and watched parts of it on You Tube.)
Reflecting back, being there in that crowd made up of all kinds of people, and Stewart saying, “we live now in hard times, not end times,” something shifted in me. It made me realize I have to stand up for my own “can we be sane about this” way. I haven’t done that much. Mostly I leave arguing to the extremes and pray that they end up at a middle ground.
So over the following weeks and months, while I walked my dog and fell to thinking about things, I realized, yet again, how crazy and complicated our lives have become. It’s all too much and too easy to feel hopeless when we are tired, overworked, over scheduled, under rested. Lots of people don’t have choices, they are struggling to survive, this is not about that. This is where many of us make choices to watch tv over exercise, eat on the run, drive when we could walk, sign our kids up for every organized activity possible. We can make different decisions, we can make different choices. That’s the sanity we need to restore. And, I hear, though I’m not there yet, that when you slow down, and practice something like meditation, time actually opens up, becomes spacious. I really want to feel that.
Slowing down can give us some space to breathe, consider where we are, and where we want to go. So to me, right here right now, in this suburb where I live, biking and walking to nearby stores and services can go a long ways towards helping restore sanity to our overworked busy lives and maybe, by extension to our world.