Commuting by bike
This past week I started riding a bike again. I hadn’t ridden a bike since my days in Australia almost 10 years ago so it was no surprise that I felt a bit uncomfortable at first. My reason for deciding to get back on was a simple one – traffic! For the last couple of years I’ve been getting around town by car going from one lesson to the next, morning, afternoon and evening. After only two weeks back to work from the summer I started getting stressed out and realized that it may not be the hours I’m working but the driving I’m doing, the rushing, the traffic, the parking, the honking, the inevitable road rage of driving around in this town and of course the frustration of not being able to get to some lessons on time.
I must admit I was a bit surprised at all the organizing I had to do to make the transition from car to bike. The second-hand bike I got, needed to be serviced, I had to change the seat, the tire, the breaks, buy mudguards, buy a lock, lights, a backpack, a pump and I’ve yet to get a helmet but will. I was anxious at the prospect of driving on the road with car traffic around me but I ignored the anxiety and just went for it in the end. With my socks pulled up, the cuffs of my pants folded I set out for my first morning – three lessons, with two of them on opposite sides of town.
A different perspective
What a rejuvenating experience! I felt liberated. Freed from the shackles of driving stuck in traffic, at red lights, down one way streets and endlessly looking for parking, I finally felt like I was moving, getting to my destination and could stop for a quick croissant on the way, through the old town’s main square (inaccessible to cars obviously). Crossing through town was fantastic. You see, when you are in a car, you don’t see, hear and feel the city you live in. The car becomes another world, detached from the one happening outside your windows. And it’s a damn shame, because where I live there’s a lot to see, and hear, and feel, especially in the spring, summer and early fall when plenty is going on. When I was in my car, I was comfortable, isolated, with my podcasts playing, stuck in traffic and paying attention on the road. Now, with my bike, I’m outside free to roam and take any route I please on my way to my clients. That is awesome! I’m getting exercise but the natural kind, not robotic in a gym doing arm curls but using my legs to ride to work, cruisin’. My butt is a bit sore from the seat but I’m sure it’s because my butt was used to a cushioned car-seat so not worried.
It makes me wonder how and why I didn’t make the switch years ago and what I was resisting. It was because I was too comfortable in my car. Comfortable in my cushioned car-seat, with my podcasts playing and the A/C on, or the heat blasting. With my Tupperware in the shotgun seat full of my lunch. I thought it easier, less effort. Why would I get on a bike and ride like these other fools? Haha, get a car you retards and get off my road damn it!
It’s funny how your perspective can change. But what’s even more interesting is how revelatory something can be after you have finally tried it yourself, instead of criticizing or convincing yourself it’s not for you.
The scary unknown that is right in front of us
I have a feeling we do that with a lot of things in our lives. Including in education. We have all kinds of excuses and reasons for avoiding change or trying something new. No matter how smart we think we are, we do this, inevitably. Your brain is hard-wired to protect you from the scary unknown that is riding a bike to work, or teaching a class without assigning homework or teaching about a subject relevant to students than to your school curriculum, or reducing the amount of meat we eat as a society because we are obsessed with protein and in particular beef. We all want to stick with what we are used to, habits are hard to break, rituals are safe, predictable and keep us away from the danger of the new.
I’ve been riding for only two days and it’s mind-boggling to me how more people are not doing this. We are so car obsessed, and meat obsessed. I mean every guy I meet loves cars, loves driving them, loves talking about them and would love to have a new one whenever possible. The same group loves meat, tell them to reduce it and they will just look right through you. When I say it, that’s exactly what they do, no reaction, no response, they look past me and our conversation moves onto other things. I’m not judging here just pointing out a behavior I’ve noticed. I’ve been guilty of doing all these things myself and that’s why I am writing about it because I have made changes and can see the results and know better, know the potential we all have, know the natural gift we all have to improve and rise against adversity.
Avoiding the real problem
All this can be applied to school of course. Teachers hear the noise about change but choose to ignore it. Parents hear it too, but expect the educators to take action. Or take action by asking their kids to do twice as much. If school cannot provide what is necessary we will offer you all the extracurricular activities your heart desires and of course make sure you get the grades required in school. So get great grades, play tennis, dance, learn another two languages, learn to draw, roller-blade, join the chess club, join the arts club, volunteer, run a little, play football, participate in a food drive, cook. Now you are ready for society kids. Or a nervous breakdown! We are willing to do anything to avoid making real change, change that matters for something.
Full disclosure, I’ll still be driving in the winter months, unless it’s a beautiful, dry, sunny day though I’ll have to purchase a mask because of the air pollution in this town. Nevertheless, the bike riding is here to stay and I am looking forward to it more than you know.