Friday, April 22, 2011

Biking to work

Recently I started biking to work three days a week. It is a seven mile journey each way which provides a good workout, time for processing the days events, and the margin to prepare the mind for home. I ride a mountain bike (for the terrain is varied) so my progress is slower than it could be. It takes 30-40 minutes, depending on the direction, weather, and the degree of tenderness that lingers within my backside.

I was partly inspired to ride by my brother Michael, who serves in the Army in Atlanta. He lives on the far north side, and commutes by utilizing his bike, the bus, and light rail system. I first thought he was a bit loopy for this - but then we visited his home and witnessed the results. The journey had made him both a better man (stronger, fitter, sharper of mind) and saved his family the added expense of another vehicle.

I was also partly inspired by the writings of Wendell Berry, which I have been consuming at a rapid pace over the last few months. One of the results of reading his works has been to think more about how to de-compartmentalize my life. Everything in life has a cost. Yes, all our machines and gadgets bring speed and efficiency to our lives, but at what cost? We often fail to consider, let alone count the costs of our daily lives. Berry tells the story of a neighbor, "I knew a man who, in the age of chainsaws, went right on cutting his wood with a handsaw and an axe. He was a healthier and saner man than I am. I shall let his memory trouble my thoughts."

Which reminded me of our days cutting and stacking wood at my parents home to heat their house. Swinging an axe brings a certain serenity and strength that stands apart from other activities. This is part of the reason I gave up my gym membership this year. I could never quite reconcile in my heart and mind why it is I would DRIVE my car to a building where I knew very few people (and they had little if any interest in knowing me) and then proceed to move items around for no obvious productive means except to improve my strength and mirror appeal. It often occurred to me that no farmer ever "went to the gym." He does not divide his work from his work-out, for the two occur together. So I canceled my gym membership, hopped on the bike, and joined some men at the office for lunch workouts. Not only do I save money on the gym membership, but also the gas, and I save time, and bring more calm to my soul.

1 comment:

John said...

Hey, anytime you want some exercise, we will still let you chop wood!