Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How many times do I have to learn?

We just moved into our new place and I'm only a few miles from work. Yet, for a bunch of lame reasons (excuses) I drove to work today. After work, on my way to the bike shop, I had trouble starting the truck. So I just got out and walked. It's only a couple miles to the bike shop and in Austin traffic, it would have been frustrating to drive anyway.

Instead I had a wonderful walk. The weather was invigorating, everyone was out on Town Lake trail, running, walking their dogs, cycling. As I crossed over the lake on the Lamar pedestrian path, I saw a brace of ducks pushing a silent V of water ever further up the dammed river. Beautiful people were shopping, well dressed fixed-gear cyclists were holding trackstands at stoplights, veggie burgers, enchiladas and cupcakes perfumed the air.

Whenever I get out of the car, I can't remember why I ever got in. Because it's faster? Why would I want to rush that cupcake smell? Because it's safer? No safer than moving at 1/10th the speed, with better visibility and better maneuverability. Because it's more convenient? How are gas stations, red lights, intersection panhandlers and speed traps more convenient?

I absolutely love getting out of the car, eddying in the sidewalk's human confluence. I love being in the outside, being seen, moving at an evolutionarily acceptable pace, looking people in the eye and seeing their recognition. I love all that there is to see outside of my car. I love all the opportunities that not-driving presents. I love the direct interaction with my natural and built environments, plugging all five senses and balance into my scene, the tactile and auditory smörgåsbord. Even with my hands in my pockets, I'm in touch with infinitely more than were I in my car.

I don't know when I'm going to go back for that truck. Definitely not tonight or tomorrow morning. Maybe the next time misery wants some company, I'll call on the old girl.