Epiphany, sort of

28 05 2008

Date: May 28

Mileage: 2.2

May Mileage: 109.8

Year to Date Mileage: 317.4

Temp/Weather: 50F, cloudy, windy

So last night I rode over to the grocery store to pick up groceries. I decided to lock my bike up at the bike rack, as  figured I can strip it, put all the little things in my backpack, and then someone else can’t steal them. And thanks to the milk crate on my bike, I had a good idea of how much I could fit into my carry basket so that my bike wasn’t overloaded. I had the bag boy put everything into two paperbags. As I got back out to my bike, I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to fit two paper bags full of groceries in my milk crate. So I got to work unloading the bags, repacking my crate, then placing the bags, folded, on top of the groceries to protect them from the bungee cords.

My epiphany came as I began to pedal away from the grocery store. Hopefully I can express it as clearly in words as I felt it at the time. I LOVE my bike. I LOVE my milk crate. I LOVE not having a car. Sure, there are sucky days when it is cold, windy, raining, or all three. I LOVE that my bike makes me slow down. My bike forces me to make better decisions. Car ads are all about getting there faster, going whenever you want, having life at your fingertips. But is that really better? When we are rushing to and fro, we end up missing all the little moments that make up a life. Life isn’t about the big moments. You can’t MAKE a moment meaningful just because you want it to be so. The meaningful moments come when you aren’t expecting them. For example: last Saturday, when I was hiking with my mom, her boyfriend and my sister had gone ahead. As we were walking down the path, a hummingbird appeared. That little hummingbird flew, landed, flew, landed along with us for, oh, 7 meters or so. Not far, but everytime he landed, he looked over at us, chirped, waited until we almost caught up with him, and then flew up to the next bush. It was neat, and something that I would not have noticed if I had rushed ahead with my sister.

Little moments, slower pace, quiet. these are the things we need more of. Not bigger, faster, louder, more expensive. Retailers want us to think we need more. We need less. Life is busy enough without all the extras that clutter up our space and time.

Anyhow, as I was perusing the aisles last night, I knew I had very limited space to carry four days worth of groceries home. Sure, I can always stop by on my way home from work to pick up something I may have forgotten. But I really don’t want to. I had to make sure that my purchases fit the space I had available, were as nutritious as possible, and fit my budget. As I was repacking the groceries I had so carefully picked, I realized that the bag boy had put my very ripe, very soft peaches at the bottom of the bag, underneath apples and a large russet potato. He didn’t care about the thought I put into taking care of my family. To him, they are just peaches, and I was the annoying lady asking him to pack all my groceries into two paper bags. I think he wasn’t being a jerk, he was just doing his job, but it is probably a job he hates.

So here’s the thing. If I had been driving my car, I wouldn’t have noticed his carelessness until I got home; and more likely than not, my peaches would have been ruined. But because I was forced to slow down, I noticed, rectified it by making sure my peaches were repacked to arrive home safely, and went on with my day.

As I was pedaling away from the grocery store, I felt really good about my lifestyle choices. I am making choices that will positively affect me for years to come. Probably for the first time ever, I feel like I am on the right path. I feel like I am being completely true and honest with myself. I know I am at a job I don’t like, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about it. But I am less than 2.5 years away from being debt free. I want to be free of debt before I think about changing jobs. And the end is in sight.

I thought about these things on my way back home. As I was slowly pedaling along, I noticed a clump of daisies growing over the side of a small hill. I stopped picked some of them for my vase at home, and headed over to the bread shop to pick up some freshly made rolls. I chatted with the bread store girl, then headed back home. As I was unpacking, I realized the rolls were not only freshly made that day (yesterday), but they were still warm!

My local farmers market is now open, as of Saturday. So starting Saturday, I will be getting my produce from the farmers market via bike and milk crate. I want to be an example in this life. And the only way to be a good example is to be true to myself.

I am now certain, more so than before, that I won’t be replacing my car. This is going to make quite a few people upset. But they can bite me. There is never a day so horrible that I can’t walk or ride my bike, either to work or the grocery store. Besides, the cost of cars, gas and insurance is skyrocketing, with no relief in sight. I would rather be one of the front-runners in expecting my city to take on a more European lifestyle when it comes to bikes and biking. I wish I lived in the Netherlands. I would be very happy to live somewhere were bikes were an integral part of the culture. For now, I have to find a way to live somewhere that bikes are only an integral part of MY culture, and hope that it spreads.



One response

28 05 2008

What a wonderful post and a super blog. I’ve been torn about buying a bike this year and you really have made things clearer for me. Struggling to pay of debts in the past but learning to manage my finance’s has meant I have had savings for the first time in years.

I used to love cycling and want to commute to work but after my bicycle was stolen serveral years ago I’ve never had the time (it seemed) or the money to get back in ‘the saddle’.

I’ve found a bike I want under £300.00 and would love to buy it but the penny pincher in me now struggles with the thought of spending the moeny I’ve worked really hard to save!

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