Thursday, February 11, 2010

sunshine, the blues, and dope

I am happier when the sun is shining. Most of my commutes since the first of the year have been cloud covered and cold. If you are like me seasonal affect disorder (SAD) is on me within minutes of the cloud covering the sun.

I remember watching the TV show Northern Exposure years ago and one of the characters an old trapper named Walt was prescribed a light visor to trick his brain into thinking it was light in the darkness of the Alaskan winter the brain would produce mood enhancing natural drugs so he would be happy. He ended up using it too much, became addicted. His friends had to intervene and take the visor from him dooming him to the melancholy winter life.

What is it like to be a carfree American? It is hard.

What did you think I was going to give you some fluff telling you how great it is? Well?

Let's start with the American part of carfree American. I am an American, and proud of it. Ever since I was a baby (maybe before) I have been indoctrinated that cars and America go together- I am NOT proud of that.

I was under the impression I would ; die, be ridiculed, be embarrassed, be stranded, uncool, be limited in my local travel, if I did not own and drive a car. I never heard the term carfree until I was 36. I read in a book called Divorce Your Car.

When I was younger I remember being jealous of the people walking and biking places, they seemed happier.

I can tell you 100% for sure, I am a happier American being carfree.

Why is being carfree hard?

For me, I live in a car-centric environment. There is no public transportation. So, my choice for transportation is limited to walking and biking. I love both, but sometimes I wish I had a car. (Told you I am brainwashed).

Winter is the hardest, at night, below 10f, when you are warm and toasty but you want something bad. You have to put on the layers for protection. It is serious business depending how far you need to go to get that snack, or groceries, or whatever else you think you have to have enough to make you go out in the night, in the snow and ice.

Once the walk or ride starts, something happens, whether you are walking or biking. You start moving, all your senses come alive-see a gorgeous world, smell the fresh air, feel the earth below you or the bike under you, and hear the world around you. In an instant that hard inconvenience becomes a adventure and you are doing what most will not-experiencing life in the moment-aware of everything around you and not be confined to a unnatural metal cage. The wishing I had a car goes away and I remember why I am carfree, and thinking, "this is awesome!" And it is, maybe it is your bodies natural mood enhancers-your own natural dope.

NOTE: Last year I rode my bike 9,178 miles- the majority was for transportation on a local level. I loved every minute of it.

carfree American Tip 1: One thing I do everyday is try to notice something I have never seen or notices before. It keep the commutes fresh and it is fun to be aware of new things!

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