Art of Living…As Perceived by Bicycle

Cutting boards that conveniently slide out from their hiding places in the cabinets so they never take up counter space.

Cafe day.

Hot tea sipped between friends over conversation after a meal.

The spa. Wandering naked between a hot sauna, a hot steam room, a cold tub of water, a hot tub, and a clay room. Feeling the moment when the air exhaled is cooler than the air in the room.

Multiple choices for tea, in a well stocked cabinet full of tea.

Cafe day.

Intentionally living close enough to campgrounds and epic mountains so that every weekend is an adventure.

Walls painted colors that remind you to be AWAKE and PRESENT.

Fruit and vegetables so fresh and cheap that they are affordable and taste worth it.

Cafe day.

Reading books leisurely.

Writing letters and crafting cards to friends who moved away years ago. Creating whether or not there is reciprocity.

Home cooked meals with fresh vegetables. Salads with fruit. Avocado.

The purple slits are wood cutting boards that slide out.

The purple slits are wood cutting boards that slide out.

There are many things that are best enjoyed when stationary and in a house or apartment. There are comforts. There are subtle pleasures. There is the very idea of having options (like more than one tea to choose from). There is spending money on self-care. There is rest. Each of these seems like a rich luxury when traveling, but when incorporated into a stationary life, can elevate the way one exists.

We are finding that our hosts around the country have many ways of elevating their daily lives. A lot of these are such small pieces of their lives that they’ve gotten used to and take for granted. It seems novel to me, now, though, to be able to buy more than I need and have space to store it. It feels luxurious to be able to stay at home. To have a home, and a couch to stay on. To wake up in the morning and wonder what you’ll do with your day.

Bike travel answers a lot of questions about what to do with oneself. Wake up in the morning and tasks are already on the table: breakfast via camp stove, pack up, disassemble the tent, put your bags back on the bike, apply sunscreen, another snack before hitting the road. Then ride. Until you’re hungry. Then eat. Then ride again, eat again, until you do the reverse of the morning: take your bags off the bike, assemble the tent, unpack, make dinner, sleep. It’s almost more secure, more sure-fire, despite the lack of glamor or choices.

Oatmeal--the perfect hot way to start the day, whether on or off the bike. But usually eaten without a bowl.

Oatmeal–the perfect hot way to start the day, whether on or off the bike. But usually eaten without a bowl.

It is fun to be around these creature comforts for a little bit, and to day dream about what my life might be like when I am more stationary again. At this point, though, I have been living this version of a minimalist life for about a month.  I have adapted. I have little desire to accumulate things. I have no desire to make purchases that I do not perceive as fully worthwhile. I like the luxuries while we are in the city, but it comforting to me that access to the luxuries will be short lived. It excites me to know that by going north, we will be re-entering the forest, getting close to the coast once again, and the only choice will be to bike.

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2 thoughts on “Art of Living…As Perceived by Bicycle

  1. Hi MaryAnn,

    Your chatter about enjoying life and being in the moment brings me to the article in NY Times last Sunday. The author is Gordon Marino, a Philosophy Professor and occupational counselor for college students. He quotes Martin Luther King in the article, “…that every life is marked by dimensions of length, breadth, and height. Length refers to self-love, breadth to the community and care of others, height to the transcendent” Transcendent means beyond or above the range of normal or merely physical human experience; I am sure you can relate to the many times you have experienced this. My experience with you and Ammachi was one of those moments. That something higher/larger than oneself is a glimpse of God in action. Such experiences remold our life for the better.

    The author continues, “Perhaps you relish running marathons. Perhaps you even think of your exercise regimen as a form of self-improvement. But if your “something higher” is justice and equality, those ideals might behoove you to delegate some of the many hours spent pounding the track on tutoring kids at the youth center. Our desires should not be the ultimate arbiters of vocation. Sometimes we should do what we hate, or what most needs doing, and do it as best as can.” The title of the article was “A life beyond ‘do what you love’.”

    I would like you to think about this. The full article is at opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/author/gordon-marino/
    I would appreciate your response.

    Love, Mom

    • Hey Mom,

      I’d argue that I don’t need to choose. I don’t need to decide between doing something I love and forcing myself to do something I dislike. Instead I can find ways to love the things that I think are important to do. I’ve found ways to love my job, even when a lot of nurses get burnt out or get caught up in the unpleasant facts of what we have to do as nurses sometimes (body fluids, for one). And ‘doing the work’, even when it’s uncomfortable or hard, is a reality if I want to help create a world I want to live in. Challenging myself, and others, is something that I value, and this also means challenging myself to look at the privileges I hold, the opportunities that I have because of where I’m at and how I got here. To challenge myself, to self-reflect, doesn’t mean that I have to stop doing the things I love, though. Because, like the article says, to prevent myself from doing what I love because I am privileged enough to do what I love, isn’t good for me or anyone else. “For some, a happy harmony exists or develops in which they find pleasure in using their talents in a responsible, other-oriented way.” Being a nurse professionally, and then personally engaging with folks who are thinking and working on issues related to race, class, ability, gender, sexual orientation, and other forms of oppression…that’s the happy harmony to me. And because of the privileges that I have, being a nurse means that I don’t have to work all the time, so I will take advantage of that to keep the happy harmony (and prevent burn out!).

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