Current mood: contemplative
I write wonderful blogs in my head at 3 in the morning, but am not so foolhardy to jump out of bed to record them all, or I'd never get any sleep. What follows, though, is a quick list of the things that keep coming to mind. I usually don't write a set of resolutions, but this time, just for the record, I'll commit a bunch to virtual print.
The crunchy granola commute. I plan to use the bicycle as often as possible to get back and forth to my job in Coraopolis. Driving takes the better part of an hour, each direction, and the one time I bicycled westward (to there), it took 80. The shortest it takes me by bus is 80 minutes. Eastward I have not attempted by bike, but by bus it regularly takes well over two hours. As long as I dress properly for the weather, I should be fine. It's only 15 miles, and the only big hill is getting into the place. Buses may help, as much of the trip each direction duplicates existing transit routes.
Bicycle-bus combinations, continued. I am living in the future. That future consists of unspeakably high gasoline prices. How high? This high-->[insert unspeakably high number here] To that end, I am demonstrating that it is both possible and feasible to commute by bike, across suburbs, in snow and thunderstorms and what-have-you, 15 miles, and up a couple of pretty big hills, by someone in his 50s -- all that -- on a bicycle. If I can do it, and find it rather fun, then a whole helluvalotta other people not so encumbered should be able to do it at all. I think of it as trailblazing, as in, back in frontier days when some adventurous type of person took machete and kayak and mule train and headed west through the wilderness. Only maybe call it urban trailblazing.
The G.O.O.D. Job. You know what a G.O.O.D. job is, don't you? It stands for Get Out Of Debt. Assuming I can keep this job, I will have paid down a large amount of my non-mortgage debt by year's end; hopefully all of it about a year later, and the mortgage itself two years after that. (That should help me pay for two kids' college tuition.) To get to that, though, I have to not buy a car. Or take a vacation. Or replace a lot of things that are broken or failing. All the more reason not to buy a car. Just keep nose to grindstone and earn my keep.
Good health. Somehow I've been blessed with feeling 30 while being 50+. Some would say I look like I'm in my 30s. Whatever. The hair is original, but the teeth are going. What matters is that I need to stay in good health because I have no health insurance. Hence the bicycling.
But is it safe? Is anything safe? Define safe. Was chopping one's way across Illinois Territory in 1687 or whenever it was considered safe? On the contrary, I define what safe is, and sometimes it means that I get directly in front of cars and make them go the same speed I'm going, and too flippin' bad if they don't like it. I define safe, and sometimes that means being in direct defiance of written law. Safety trumps legality. If I feel I am right, I'll say that to a cop, I'll say that to a judge, and if I get a contempt citation, I'll fight it. Sometimes the law is wrong, and it takes a trailblazer to stand it down and get it changed.
WNBR 2010. Somewhere, sometime in the year, I plan to participate in World Naked Bike Ride. Chicago, Portland OR and several other cities have large, well organized rides, often June 12. How naked? Haven't decided yet. I might need to buy a thong. Body art is a wonderful thing, too. But riding down the street with 1,500 other naked people must be a wonderful feeling, and as soon as I can get to one, damn straight I am going to be part of it! (Chicago's 2009 ride had a police escort.)
Beliefs. I am not afraid to say what I believe, and what I believe differs from what anyone else believes. News flash: Nobody believes the same as another. When lots of people start believing identically, or behaving as if they believe identically, bad stuff happens. I rather like some of this stuff I'm learning about pre-Nicaean Christianity, pre-Christian pagans, various wiccans and atheists and lone wolves and outcasts. I go to a church that barely understands me; nobody else would even give me a chance. I go to learn about Jesus. I can live without the Christianity that goes with it. And the fastest way to get under my fingernails is to start singing church music (see above about believing identically), so I usually come in late, and leave early. Sorry guys, it's nothing personal. (Many of the musicians in my church read this.)
Freethought. I will not be constrained by those who seek to constrain thought. This goes way beyond churches. I include school boards and school board meeting attenders who restrict learning or methods therein. I include bowdlerizers of language. I include people who are too nice to open their mouths to say what they think. I include those who would ban books. I include those who think it sinful or immoral for a woman to remove her clothing to get a suntan or work on a roof like the guys next to her. I could go on and on. The point is, people who refuse to allow people to express themselves in a free country are repressive, and in my eyes, sinful.
Heaven and hell. Heaven and hell are not abstract places we go to when our earthly lives are done. No, they are states of being right here, right now. Everything I say and everything I do help to place myself in my own personal heaven or hell. Everything I say and everything I do helps to place those around me in their own personal heavens and hells. I need to keep this in mind every minute of my life, in every part of my being. And to me, a lot of what Christians are taught to do falls right in line with this.
Well, enough of this for one sitting. Possibly more to follow.