What’s your line?

Ride around the block and you soon find yourself retracing your journey.

Not exactly, of course: a single-track vehicle cannot help but make two tracks in the snow, the track of the rear tire crossing and recrossing the track of the front as the bicycle leans slightly to the left and then to the right.

As you circle, two tracks become four, become six, become eight.

Become more.

And the road you pedal alone grows crowded with previous selves.

You’re reminded that Whitman contained multitudes. And here you are, alone, generating multitudes of your own, just like Whitman: without fear of contradiction.

The same as you did last winter and the winters before that.

Let it snow? Maybe not. But if snow there be, you might as well make the most of it.

All together now.

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This essay has way too many exclamation points. Go ride your bike!

People on television put a lot of effort into selling prescription drugs—and their side effects. Go ride your bike!

In the United States, some believe there are two sides to any issue. Others disagree. Go ride your bike!

Serious people know there is no alternative to car dependency. Go ride your bike! (Seriously.)

One hundred years ago, in 1922, A Short History of the World by H.G. Wells was published. One reason for the book’s brevity? It included precious little information on events that transpired decades after its release. Despite that rather obvious shortcoming, it’s worth celebrating the book’s centennial. Go ride your bike!

In a world of artificial intelligence and eight billion people, originality is an illusion. Go ride your bike!

Coastal areas are flooding; California is on fire. Go ride your bike!

It’s too cold—or too hot. Go ride your bike!

There’s no time like the present. Go ride your bike!

You want to change the world, but you can’t find a big enough diaper. Go ride your bike!

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and there’s just enough daylight to explore both if you pedal. Go ride your bike!

You wake up at 3 a.m. and, once again, your tattoos are talking to each other in a language you don’t understand, which is possibly standard English. Go ride your bike!

There are so many reasons not to ride a bicycle. Go ride your bike!

In one hundred years, no one will care you spent the day reformatting a spreadsheet that will be superfluous within days of the interdepartmental marketing presentation. And let’s face it: you don’t care right now. Go ride your bike!

You aren’t a serious cyclist, a racer, a professional. Go ride your bike!

Your efforts to add a sound bar and subwoofer to your television system have been frustrated again. Go ride your bike!

You need time to think. Go ride your bike!

You just pulled out a t-shirt promoting a ride from 1999. Go ride your bike!

You know the way to the coffee shop. Go ride your bike!

Nobody else rides a bicycle to work. Go ride your bike!

All roads lead to Rome. You can’t get to Rome from here. Therefore, there are no nearby roads. Go ride your bike anyway!

You spend your days decrying the authoritarian impulse and its reliance on red-meat anecdotes and simplistic imperatives. Take a break. Go ride your bike!

You don’t have hydraulic brakes, electronic shifting, or GPS with turn-by-turn instructions. Go ride your bike!

Your kids don’t know you know how to ride a bicycle. Go ride your bike!

Your friend says, “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.” But you also have an alternative plan of action. Go ride your bike!

Consider it a mission from God if you must.

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Today’s Unsorted Top 10 List That, Once Again, is a Bit Too Long

  • Bananas before all they’re good for is banana bread
  • Candied cucumbers, because Russ refuses to employ the phrase “sweet pickles”
  • The bicycle you’re riding today
  • The bicycle you’d like to ride
  • The idea that this list could be of any length or subject, that it could include answers, questions, elisions, instructions—maybe instructions on repairing an abacus so it could calculate the best time to pet a dog that needs to be petted but not all the time and where between the ears a finger or two might be applied to elicit a subverbal response that’s plain to understand
  • Dave Brubeck
  • Engineering, if not engineers
  • Sunsets before they happen
  • Sunrises accompanied by bird song and the thumping of a rabbit against the deck as it scares itself into the next hiding place
  • Independent thought
  • Empathy
  • The semicolon
  • The day you discover English teachers do not hold the keys to meaningful discourse but are paid to show up, grade papers, and measure the distance between who they wanted to be and who they are, and that they are not paid nearly enough to crush their own dreams like grapes, let alone yours
  • The Little Prince
  • What comes next
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Uses of the past

Nostalgia is nonsense, the past rearranged to suit a fantasy of the way things were.

Nostalgia is discarded farm implements left in the weather to rust, solidify, and decay in the service of decoration.

Memory, on the other hand, when properly employed, plumbs the past for enduring insights into design, process, and, yes, beauty.

Memory, reasonably accurate memory both living and recorded, allows us to judge, preserve and/or modify the present, and, if we’re lucky, to grow wiser as we age—to profit from the forge as well as the F key; to turn the crank with educated intention.

This, then, is the tragedy of those who trade in fictions: The past becomes whatever it needs to be, unhinged from whatever it was, so much sand in the gears, and we increasingly circle the same courses in darkness—without vision, without even the ability to muffle the bleating of two-legged sheep.

If society is lost, solutions can only come from the individual.

1) Understand where you came from; 2) Pedal where you want to go; 3) Write if you can figure out why I wrote this.

I don’t remember.

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Reading trees along the way

Trees along the way are signs that everything will be all right, even though you know everything will not be all right because everything is everything that is and isn’t right.

But as the trees and miles multiply, the signs seem to localize; everything everywhere becomes the everything immediately around you, and future tense becomes present tense, the only time that makes sense because it’s the only time you have.

Everything is you and the trees along the way.

And the trees along the way are green and old, evidence that the trees and the way are sympathetic, that the way here is no threat to the trees—indeed, that the trees so close to the way are not in the way but the defining part of it.

This is the way of trees.

Offering evidence that everything is all right.

Even though, when you think about it, when you crawl back inside that tiny mediated mind that holds everything you can’t see around you, well, it can’t possibly be true, this natural contention that everything is all right.

Still, there are more trees along the way, more signs to read and ponder.

Everything here is all right.

Ah, that’s what the the signs, the trees along the way, really mean.

What you need, what we need, is more of here.


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