I normally leave for work early. About an hour or so early. Not because I live far from work, actually, I live about four minutes from work. No, I leave early to help center myself and prepare myself for the day.
The early morning is usually crisp, cool and invigorating. Then, there are days where the humidity is oppressive and the lack of wind makes you feel as if you’re stuck under water. Your only option, get on your bike and ride. Get the air moving over your body and whisk away the sweat and heat from your skin.
I do this almost every day. The early hours of the day, when I have the streets all to myself, usually green lights at intersections mean I can just throttle through them and enjoy the weather. I drive along the harbor in the mornings. The glassine surface of the Elizabeth river reflects the buildings, boats, trees and orange morning sunlight. Postcard picture perfect.
My mind is clear of worries, clear of troubles and my stress levels are at an all time low. This is a daily occurrence, and you know what, it’s not just once a day. It’s twice a day. The second time I feel my mind clear of the clutter of life is on my ride home. Only in the evenings or nighttime, I’m usually sweaty, stinky and ready for a cigar. My ride home helps decompress the bullshit of the day.
Ya know, it’s always like that for me though. Every time I get on my bike and ride, I seem to relax. The comfort is fleeting though. As soon as I get off my bike, all the stress, strife and pressures of life come flooding back into my body. All this makes me wonder…
I wonder about other drivers. People on four wheels, they remind me of hamsters on hamster wheels. Rushing as fast as you can to nowhere. Frantic looks on their faces, Knuckles white from the vice-like grip they hold on the steering wheel. Their eyes filled with anger and self righteousness against any and all other drivers on the road. The posture of their being inside their respective vehicles screams that they are the most important person in the world and everyone should get the fuck out of their way.
Everyone I see in their cans are stressed. I’m not in a can. I’m not stressed.
They get in their cars, they stress, I get on my bike and my stress goes away. It’s a strange dichotomy of drivers vs. riders. They get out of their cars, their stress lowers and mine goes up.
In that vein, every car commercial I ever see, whether the car is speeding down a salt flat, a city street or taking a luxurious curvy road in the mountain, the drivers look relaxed, happy an without stress. That’s how the car companies sell the cars. By making driving look fun. I rarely see drivers having fun. I rarely see them smile. If they are stuck in a traffic jam, they curse and pound the wheel. If they get stopped by a train, a stop light a bridge lift… they sit in their air conditioned vehicle and seethe anger into their soul. No happiness, no joy, no peace like the commercials say. Nope. They sell you the idea, and that idea is quickly lost by the urgency and need for the drivers to get from point “a” to point “b”.
Motorcycle commercials are similar; however, motorcyclists are not drivers. And, pound for pound, minute for minute, there are far more car commercials than motorcycle commercials on the tv.
I just wish there were a happy medium for all of us. For me, to be able to stay relaxed and keep my stress and worry levels near my riding levels. And for the drivers, the ease and relaxation they feel when not driving or stuck in traffic or cut off by some other driver… If they could just lose those feelings and be a calm, burbling brook of water on a cool afternoon in the autumn.
But there is no medium. There never will be. Or else after over one hundred years of craziness on the world’s roads, we’d have discovered it. Wouldn’t we? I’d like to think so.
I’d like to think there is a way that we can overcome our stress and strife without having to undergo serious psychological counseling. Yet, I don’t think even that would help in today’s society. Simply because we seem to always pile the stress on ourselves without even realizing we are doing so.
We buy into everything we see on television shows we watch. I would say commercials but in this day and age of DVR are where one can simply skip over the commercials, so the companies put all their products in the shows, the movies and on the internet. We can’t get away from it. We are surrounded by it. Invaded by consumerism.
We’re told to have the newest this, best that, the fastest thing, and the niftiest do-hickie. But it’s all crap. We tell ourselves not to buy into all the hype but it’s hard to shut it all out. We end up succumbing to the pressure. Even when we tell ourselves we are only upgrading because we have to.
That’s how it starts.
Then, we end up, months, years later, surrounded by stuff that was supposed to make life easier but somehow, it is more difficult and we keep trying to find a way to simplify. There is no simple. There is no true answer, except one. Disconnect.
Which brings another, even more difficult conundrum; can we truly disconnect? Can we give up the internet, on demand viewing, tweeting, facespacing, instapicturing and gratuitous photos of cats and obnoxious food?
Can we stop the electronic social disease that has invaded our lives and been passed on to the progeny of the latest generations?
I don’t think so. That is a bell we will never be able to unring. We are stuck for better or worse with the knowledge of who in our lives is eating what, going where, seeing who, and living why.
It’s a growing pain I believe my generation was not ready for but has somehow embraced. Like with any growth though, there is a learning process. In that process is the knowledge of the unknown. In the unknown, is pressure. In the pressure, is anger. In the anger, bad driving.
Glad I don’t drive.
I ride. I disconnect, even for a few moments and it feels good.
Have a great week.