Share the road
By Sarah Cutler
Three years ago, I sold my car. It suited my life in New Mexico and my personality; it was a joyful, life-affirming decision. Last December, I moved back to Northeast Pennsylvania.
You gotta have some nerve, doncha? calls the gentleman in the car, unhelpfully trying to wave me through an intersection ahead of his car.
Its not the hills (oh Endless Mountains!). Its not the condition of the road (is that a pothole or a fox hole?). Its not even finding space on the road (shoulders? where?) The most challenging part of riding a bicycle around here is the culture shock. I am an exotic beast: humanoid on an orange bike. Since Ive yet to find a workable car-share, Im mostly foot powered. My vision is to share the road.
Heres a deal: I follow the rules of the road; you follow the rules of the road. Simple. I promise, I see you (you are big, loud, smelly and shiny; I am small, quiet, sparkly and quite intelligent); do you see me? Please dont toot your horn or call to me through your window; you may startle me into the road. Ah yes, do hang up and drive.
I empathize with drivers; I know the crud I pull behind the wheel and how I lose my sense of time, place and priority going places and doing things. The gnawing isolation found by being confined behind the wheel of a car kills me; inside that box of metal and glass everything gets blurry around the edges and disconnected from the world.
The Dream around here (be that Northeast Pennsylvania, the East Coast, Suburbia, or the United States) is so car-centric that considering transportation alternatives takes more energy than biking up hill.
The energy of cutting through the limiting beliefs within and around is as brutal a job as any miner found. I am rethinking reality just by considering riding and by not assuming I need a car. Its radical to find it fun and joyful, and Im not afraid to get wet, muddy or tired. To break through the local somnambulation, I must ridethe hard riding of a first ride. I have a lot of territory to cover, and the inertia is denser than the dust in an old miners lung.
Maybe I do have some nerve. Suburban isolation isnt my dream; watching drivers rush by the flowers on the trees isnt what drew me home. My dream isnt to need resources to fill my emptiness. It is to dive into the emptiness and discover wholeness. It is to live with joy and grace and freedom all the days of my life.
Im gathering the momentum to keep riding uphill. I signed on for the heart pounding, heavy breathing, bone weary bliss that comes with being alive, not just the downhill at the end. If that shakes your world, at least have the courtesy to share the road.
[Rev. Sarah Michelle Cutler, R.P.P., R.Y.T., is a healer, teacher, yogi and bike-riding peace-fool. She dreams of creative movement. Visit laughingtreespace.com for Resources for Embodied Living.]