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Downsizing, Chapter 2

After months of nosing around in bike shops and waiting for the snows to end, I finally got down to buying a bike today, a ridiculously cute and girlie powder blue affair ~ no ribbons on the handlebars or daisy covered baskets, though (or at least not yet!).

This particular bike caught my eye over a month ago, and although I held off on buying it on the spot, it was a pretty certain thing that the bike would eventually come home with me. Paul Henry played a big part in making that day today, when he went around the office this morning lobbying everyone to leave their cars at home tomorrow. “No more excuses!”, he said, and rightly so: today got up into the 70’s and there is supposed to be more good weather on the way. So thanks to Paul Henry’s efforts, tomorrow is the first Official GSI Leave Your Car At Home Day of 2009, and I didn’t want to be left out of the festivities.

Today after work I hopped on my bike and took it for an inaugural spin around town, back and forth through Drake Park a few times, absolutely falling in love with the sun on my face and the wind in my hair, the feeling of lightness and the freshness and beauty that you miss when all enclosed in a car. I felt ten years old again, remembering my days pedaling down the bike path in Mill Valley on my way home from school. Although sadly much farther from the ocean, Bend often reminds me of Mill Valley, with a basically flat center of town edged by steep hills, the great big trees left standing in town and plenty of pathways near the water’s edge. How on earth did I go so long in this town without riding a bike?

As jazzed as I was by my joyful afternoon, there is more purpose to my plan of getting a bike besides just the fun of it. If you remember from Downsizing, Chapter 1, the complete plan is to get rid of my car entirely, as a way to force myself to use my bike as a main source of transportation: good for the pocketbook, good for the environment, good for my health. Buying a bike today is a big step towards putting that plan into action, there’s no excuse now other than just being lazy or chickening out.

As basic and sensible of a choice as it may seem on the outside, I am feeling a little triggered and edgy about it this evening. Being the abnormally introspective person that I am (LOL), I’m trying to look at this edginess and get to the bottom of it. Honestly, I think it’s coming from the fact that my sense of security is all tangled up in my illusion of independence: this idea that I don’t want to have to depend on anyone else for help or else I’ll probably find myself stranded up the creek.

This is ridiculous, of course, because the reality of my life is that I’ve never done anything entirely on my own and have always had an amazing and generous amount of help offered to me precisely when I needed it. I might know this with my brain, but my scared little animal self is entirely freaked out by the prospects of surrendering some of my independence. I mean, what if I need to get to my dentist in Redmond? Or go to the airport? Or buy more than one bag of groceries at a time? I might actually (*gasp*) have to ask someone for help!

There’s also this part of me that has a bad case of wanderlust and feels a bit like a caged animal when I stay in one place for too long, and who never entirely believes that I am settled somewhere. As long as I have a car, there’s always the possibility of zooming out of town on a lark, or packing it all in and rolling out of town forever.

I know that this is just one more piece of a larger life lesson which has been coming to me in many forms these last few weeks, which of course is still ongoing and too fresh to be fully articulated with clear perspective. It all has to do with being in right relationship to other people and to myself vis-à-vis community, of allowing barriers to come down in the right places and also of holding back when that’s the highest choice. It’s a fine line to walk, and I can’t say I have been walking it with perfect integrity and wisdom and trust, but that’s at least what I am striving for. And I am grateful that I know that when we feel stretched like I do right now, it’s because we’re doing some important growing.

The letting go of my car will be a piece of growing and learning to trust, and it will be a huge break with old patterns that just aren’t serving me (and probably never have). So I am excited about taking this leap, but definitely feeling edgy.

Photo of Drake Park via vrbo