Getting to the Point
So it’s time to start drawing my thoughts together and start making sense of all the bigger thoughts I’ve been working on.
Let me be very up front. I’m afraid to write this entry.
I haven’t brought all my thoughts together and I haven’t always been extremely explicit with a lot of the points I’ve been thinking about.
The first thing I have to mention is that I’ve really felt crushed under the stress, particularly over the past few months. It has affected my health. It’s also affected my mindset. I’ve been struggling to do my best to cope with the stress positively.
Some days #BetterYYC has been the only reason for me to get out of bed in the morning. Trying to make a difference, trying to affect change, trying to improve myself, my family, my community, and my city. I’ve been trying to consider the little things around me that I can improve instead of feeling swamped under all the crap I can’t fix.
It’s been tough some days. I’ve been clinging to different ideas lately and discovering they are much deeper solutions than I ever had imagined.
Picture in your mind: A young boy in Rosemary, Alberta racing his bike along the small-town roads. In my mind, I was the fastest thing on two wheels and I had infinite freedom to travel the town over. Well, it turns out I wasn’t the fastest thing ever on two wheels and I can’t ride my bike indefinitely.
But as a grown man, I’ve rediscovered that exact same joy and enthusiasm I had as a boy. I’ve found that riding a bike not only saves me a boat load of money, but it means much less maintenance on my car and I have a much better attitude when I’ve arrived at whichever destination I headed towards. That is the deeper solution - when all the benefits come together and add up to a lot more than you expected at the outset.
I’ve retained my girlish figure, sure, but today I can ride much farther and faster than I ever have imagined. My breathing is easier, my knee hurts less, I know that I am more fit and more happy than when I’m not riding my bike. This has expressed itself time after time over the past few months. It’s a good thing, for me, and it’s something I hope to make possible for everyone who would prefer to ride a bike more often. Judging from the recent survey in Calgary, that’s most of us.
We have to fix that. What’s stopping us? Put a little cash into infrastructure up front and we’ll collectively save a bundle in the long haul. It makes sense.
Everything about cycling more makes sense to me. Making it available to others is reasonable to me because the benefits are apparent. It’s not going to be simple, it’s not going to be smooth, but we can come together and discuss who, what, where, when, why and how to make it happen. We’re having the discussion, let’s make it an achievable goal.
Maybe I’m a little naive, perhaps too optimistic, but we’ve done a poor job of making Calgary bicycle friendly for at least 40 years while talking about how nice it would be to cycle more. There comes a point when someone has to lead the conversation and make things happen. There comes a point when someone has to say our current rules don’t make sense, or that we’ve created so many harmful side effects that we have to readdress the situation as a whole.
Making a positive change. The Albert Park Centennial Garden has made a huge difference in our community. It’s made a huge difference in my life. I’ve met neighbours, I’ve worked with neighbours, I’ve felt integrated into my community through it. I’ve met some fantastic friends, I’ve worked alongside some amazing corporate citizens. Paul Tonnesen from Fiskars and Duncan Reith from Canadian Tire didn’t just show up for the photo shoot at the end of the day, they put some serious effort into building the garden with us. That is the kind of leadership I subscribe to - people willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work. This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky dreamland, this is a real and tangible creation that will pay off for years to come.
It’s easy to destroy, it’s much harder to create. To create something good and lasting requires planning, feedback and involvement. That’s what I’m interested in helping to create.
That’s why my life lately has been about so many of these ideas swirling together. It’s not just cycling, it’s not just about standing up and complaining about bad laws, it’s not just about building a garden or picking up garbage. It’s about creating a better life. Fixing the harms that have been done. Trying to be open in conversation and be able to express what I need and to hear how I can help. Doing things properly, not just for today but for the long haul as well.
Next I’m going to have to explain the ultimate driving force behind my attitude and fix my particular hypocrisy. I’ve been thinking on it for months, I can only hope I express it properly.