The wake-up call
Last week I had the real sense that a decade or more of an exclusive global economy and deeply harmful economic policies that have decimated the working class here and abroad are finally rearing their ugly, selfish, shortsighted heads. People are extremely frustrated and angry and are saying and doing self-sabotaging and hateful things. (It is an odd feeling to realize that I had not expected history to repeat itself as it has always done, with poverty, anger and frustration giving way to xenophobia and fear.) If we felt like the world was becoming unceasingly unstable and uncertain, it now may feel like the bottom is dropping out with the Brexit and the common thread of fear and anger at home and abroad that has been revealed through this event.
The solution: The cruiser ride and other community building, creative endeavors
I don’t mean to downplay the seriousness of our current events here, but I learned something interesting last Thursday night on Bullseye Bicycle (a local bike shop in Durham)’s monthly cruiser ride. Thursday night I was ready to lay on the couch with an icepack on my head. It was like pea soup outside and with all the craziness in the world, my inclination was to hunker down alone with a book. The wiser voice inside said: “Get out. Go. Right now. Join the cruiser ride.” For those of you who don’t know what a cruiser ride is, it is a mellow social bike ride around town, often hosted by local bike shops. The sole purpose is to pedal with other people who love pedaling. To love bicycling and enjoy the energy being together with other people who love bicycling.
And indeed my perspective was instantly transformed. I went from being a lone, fretful, fatigued body to one in a sea of joyful cyclist. Any lingering fears and anxieties about what was happening in our world were booted out while observing a rider on a double decker bike like the one pictured below calmly and adeptly navigate the obstacles of the parking garage our group swarmed into.
What was happening? Being immersed in creativity out in the real world of my community, actually living creatively through a simple cruiser ride with a group of friends and strangers, was serving as a joyful antidote to the negative energy around us. In a simple way, we were creating our reality: One of kindness, creativity, joy and community.
At one point I heard what I call the “angry acceleration” of a car next to us (when you can hear the anger and frustration from a driver as they direct it into the gas pedal). I know where that person is coming from. I’ve been there in the recent past. Just got off a job you hate, with an employer who could care less about you. Sat in traffic. Listened to a lot of negativity on the radio on your way home to ruminate about the appalling state of the world and your powerlessness to change it.
And that is just one reality, I thought. And the more we turn our attention to a different reality (not by deciding to be uninformed or closed off to the world) but by choosing to use our limited energy in a day to be a part of something beautiful, creative, something that makes the world better.
So I am writing to remind myself and perhaps connect with you on the idea that the crazy fear and violence surrounding us at the moment can serve as a wake-up call. Not to do what may seem natural – lock our doors, arm ourselves, be suspicious of strangers, fight each other, but to do the opposite. Connect with each other, and build something beautiful, however small it seems. Fight the fear, negativity and inertia and get out and do something positive.
Cruiser rides allow us to experience what it would be like to live in a world where it is safe to bike. Where biking is celebrated. Where you feel connected and supported by each other in your community. Enlightening activities such as these, big and small can help us find the community necessary to end the monotony of greed, poverty and war.
Go, fight, win!