Tuesday, March 31, 2009

On the road again

I didn't start walking until I was 14 months old. That's within the "normal" range but in our culture of recording every drop of milk taken in, ounce of poop excreted and developmental milestone ticked off the chart(hopefully before all the baby books and mom websites say it should happen), it's a bit on the late side. There was nothing wrong with me. My mom says I just didn't seem to have any interest in getting anywhere. She could put me on the living room floor with a couple of toys around me and go into the kitchen to make lunch and when she returned, I would be in the same spot. I had no need to be pulling on her apron strings nor to check out what was past the length of my arm. I think that I still exhibit a general contentment with my life and acceptance of the way things are.

Once I got on my feet, I developed like most everyone else - I enjoyed scooting myself on the trike bike, pedaling myself on a regular bike, and, eventually, driving myself in a car. The feeling of freedom that permeated my soul when I got my driver's license was indescribable. I didn't own a car but had rather generous use of my parents' cars. For years, I loved driving. I felt free, unencumbered, full of opportunity, and independent.

These days, driving a car feels like the opposite of what it once did. It doesn't make me independent - it makes me dependent on the car, which is built with computer chips and circuits that I'll never understand and could never fix if I needed to. It makes me dependent on the roads - where they go and don't go and whether they're jammed with traffic. It makes me dependent on maintenance personnel - to diagnose and fix chips and circuits and get to those darn spark plugs that car manufacturers now make unreachable with normal tools - who hopefully don't take all the money from my wallet in the process.

When I want to feel true freedom of motion now, I get on a bike. Bikes are still simple machines even as they incorporate new technologies. All parts are fixable with a little bit of training and a small set of tools. I depend on no one but myself when I ride a bike.

When I move my legs, I move the bike. I feel my muscle fibers contract and work together, my heart rate increases and my lungs suck in more air. I cover ground. I put space between where I was and where I am. My legs are the pistons and the calories I've eaten are the fuel. I feel the wind in my face. I feel the sweat down my back. I hear the vehicle engines around me and see people stuck in their climate-controlled boxes. I hear the birds calling. I smell the fields, each one surprisingly different. I tuck on the downhills. I stretch on the flats. I sing songs in my head on the uphills and push, push, push. I smile and laugh when I make it to the top.

My body gives up a lot of energy to ride a bike. My soul gains a lot of energy to ride a bike.


Anonymous said...

I want to feel that feeling on a bike, for me it is hiking because I am too afraid that on a bike I will have a flat tire or loose the chain and I won't be able to fix it, I do remember how wonderful it felt to bike. Enjoy the freedom!!!

TeamDandy said...

Thanks! I'm glad you find solace, peace, energy and freedom through hiking. I do, too, but can't do it much as it is more painful for me than enjoyable, lots of times.

Here's to us all finding and making time for that which makes us feel free!

S said...