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Archive for the 'Philosophy' Category

Pansies

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Pansies. No, I’m not talking about those pretty little flowers. I’m talking about my fellow man.

It’s been raining here yesterday and today, but I’ve ridden to work anyway. I’ve lucked out and it hasn’t rained in the morning — usually, I decide whether to ride based on that. I don’t mind getting wet on the way home, but I don’t want to show up at work drenched.

There were some storms rolling through the area yesterday afternoon and around 5-5:30 pm, it was very dark outside, raining hard with some thunder and lightning. I heard someone complain, “How am I going to get to my car?” There are two places you can park if you work for my company: right next to the building or right across the street. I thought to myself, “You’ll walk! And you’ll get a little wet. Who cares?” I heard various other complaints about getting a little wet, and even one person debating whether it was safe to drive. What the hell?

I mentioned I rode my bike to work, garnering astonished looks from a couple of people. One of them offered me a ride home, which I appreciated, but politely declined. This brought more astonishment. They seemed to be thinking, “What kind of masochist would ride a bicycle in the rain?”

Honestly, I was looking forward to it. It’s still warm outside, so I can take my preferred approach to riding in the rain and just accept the mantra, “If you ride in the rain, you’re gonna get wet.” I wear clothes that won’t get too waterlogged and that dry quickly. But I get wet and I dry off and change my clothes when I get home. I don’t understand this fear so many people have of getting wet. They aren’t going to melt.

People act the same way about the heat in the summer, the cold in the winter, the dark during the night, etc. They ask things like, “How can you ride in the (heat/cold/rain/dark/snow/mud)? Won’t you get (hot/cold/scared/snowed on/dirty)?” The answer, of course, is YES. If you ride in the heat, for instance, you’ll get hot. You can dress appropriately and try to make it more comfortable, but if you go out in those conditions anyway, you’ll get used to it. You might be a bit uncomfortable, but so what? Why let the weather stand in the way of doing the things you love? I know that sometimes the weather really will make it impossible or undesirable to do some things, but why is so many people’s threshold for discomfort so low?

I do understand how sometimes weather will make people lazy. It almost happened to me this morning. It looked like it could rain at any moment, so I wasn’t sure whether I should ride or drive to work. I decided to ride, and I’m glad I did. It was a beautiful morning, with the smells of the rain we got overnight. It was overcast, but everything basked in a warm glow. It was pretty muggy, but I rode slower and I was fine. It was a perfect morning to ride to work, and I got more astonished looks when I walked in carrying my bicycle helmet. I’ll probably get rained on again on my way home — and I am looking forward to it.

Simplify

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

Back in May, Sarah’s friend Julia came to visit. We spent a couple of hours with her cousin, Christopher. We went over to his place to hang out for a while, and as soon as we entered his kitchen, Julia spotted a sign that said “Simplify” in block letters. She started laughing and asked, “You have one, too?” Apparently, one of their relatives gave a “Simplify” sign to each of them. Both of them kept it, but neither seemed to be sure why.

This “Simplify” sign had a surprising impact on me.  I’ve thought about it a few times since then. Then yesterday, I looked at my bank statement online and felt stupid — “this transaction was unnecessary,” I thought. “This one, too.” There were several things on there that I just didn’t need. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much stuff is cluttering up my life.

Then, on my way home from work (I drove, since my bike had a flat tire), I saw a man laying on the ground and a cyclist trying to help him. I turned off on a side street so I could turn around and see if I could help. I turned around, and I was stuck at the intersection, but I could see across. A few people were trying to help the man, and at least two people had already called 911. The man appeared to be unconscious. He started to convulse a little bit. Moments later, he regained consciousness and tried to get up. Someone helped him to his feet. He seemed to have enough help, and I could hear an ambulance already, so I decided to continue on my way.

Another reason I didn’t stick around was that I knew I couldn’t do much. I don’t know much about first aid, and I took a CPR class back in high school, but that was a long time ago. I felt helpless. Fortunately, this guy already had people helping him, but what if I was the only one there, and I didn’t know what to do? I felt silly that I had worried earlier that day about my flat tire and getting a new tire and how I was anxious to get home quickly. Those things are so trivial compared to a human life.

I need to get back to basics. I’m going to make a concerted effort to simplify my life. I’m not sure yet what that will mean, but I need to figure that out. Two things I know it will involve are buying less crap and learning some first aid and CPR. Especially with all the cycling I do, and the hiking Sarah and I do together, I really need to know those things. Sarah said she’d take some classes with me, which is a great idea. I think I can get rid of a lot of the junk I already have, too. I have a lot of clothes that don’t fit anymore, and stuff I don’t use. It needs to go. I have two old bicycles I’ve been meaning to get rid of, but haven’t. I have no idea why, I just keep putting it off.

I’m hoping this simplification will help on several levels. It should help me save money, and I think having less clutter will make me more comfortable. It’ll be easier to find things if I don’t have so much junk to dig through. But more importantly, I have been trying to be more self-reliant in general, and I think that learning first aid — and trying to depend less on things I should be able to do without — should help me do that. I already feel more self-reliant from cycling. If my car broke down, or I crashed it, or something happened and oil prices skyrocketed even further, I could still get around. But if one of my loved ones got hurt, I wouldn’t be able to do much of anything. That is unacceptable.

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