When he was five he rode his bicycle without stabilizers for the first time. He remembers the moment; where he was, the trees, sun beams streaming through them over his head. Mostly he remembers the feeling; an elated, fresh, gush of air. And the thought: I can go faster than an adult can walk.
Photo by Rikki Chan on Unsplash
Happiness was freedom, he decided.
When he was five he also decided he wanted to change the world. One does at that age, and it carries on well into adolescence, adulthood, midlife.
Now he was there, at midlife and very far from that gush of air he once experienced. Except when he rode his bike along the dirt paths that led away from the town. This town and this world he had wanted to change, with its dysfunctional economic, political, social models. The whole world was broken, and so was he. Except when he was on two wheels.
His bike had hit its own midlife as well. ‘If it is breaks, just bring it in,’ he had been told at the bike shop. ‘We will replace it with a new one.’
It seemed the solution to every problem: change partners, apartments, careers, cities, friends, hairstyles, wardrobes and cars. Try this new life on for size. If it fits you just might find happiness. Freedom. If not, try again. Change it, exchange it for bigger, newer, better, another.
Except he did not want another.
When it did start to rust, he oiled it. When the chain broke loose, he adjusted it. When the bike simply broke down mid-ride, he sat by it on the ground and learned to fix it. And one Saturday morning he rode his bike up the ramp in the town square market. There, he parked, set up shop and a sign:
Bike Repairs - Keeping You on Two Wheels
Doctor Bike will check, fix, repair your bike; offer tips, tricks, estimates, and advice. In exchange, he will not accept your money; he would prefer a hug, cup of tea, homemade pie. A conversation, service, a smile in return; gift and barter economics. A shift from a world of transactions to relationships; building those, he was fixing it.
When he was five, he wanted to change the world, and ride his bike all the time, faster than any adult could walk. Now he is fifty-nine.
Still on two wheels, not trying to change the world. Better; he is fixing bikes, every Saturday morning, rain or shine, for conversations and pie. Doing what is needed and doing what he loves, being cared for in return. Happiness is a choice. Perhaps one day others will join him in the market, on that ramp.