Monday, March 23, 2015

This Bicycle has Destroyed my Enculturated Preoccupation with Producing and Consuming

For riding, not replacing

Socialization in the modern period intensifies the problem. The central dynamic of modern Western culture focuses our attention on the finite. Paul Tillich called this cultural dynamic "the spirit of industrial society"--a way of living organized around production and consumption. Our modern preoccupation with producing and consuming leads us to live on the surface level of reality and to seek our satisfaction in the finite. But the sacred is known in the depths of reality, not in the manipulation and consumption of the surface.
-Marcus Borg
I'm making the effort to focus on the ride while riding. To clear my mind about work, and tasks that are due, and chores that need to be done, and things that need to be fixed around the house, all which will be dealt with in their own time. The ride is for the ride. 

I notice myself thinking about things I might purchase to improve the ride in some way, to make the holding of the handlebars more comfortable, say, or to make the seating of the saddle more amenable to the parts which rest upon it, or, to make the pedals, I don't know, pedal better.

Sometimes, often in fact, my mind drifts to a new frame to replace this old 1973 one, perhaps a new one from Walnut Creek, CA to build up myself, or another one snagged at the upcoming GABA Spring bike swap in Tucson. When that happens, though, when those thoughts happen on the ride, I notice them and allow them to move on to wherever they go, relax from my fingers down to my toes, and spin some more to spin some more. 

As I'm noticing my superficial and utterly unnecessary thoughts of consuming, buying, owning, I reflect on the possibility of deeper things, of meanings and connections which are not bought, but found or nurtured out in the light world of actions and motion and others.

I'm fortunate that I remember the long-ago feeling in what I sometimes think of as the best single moment of my life in which I both had no money left (at all) and didn't really need any, either. In what was kind of a luminous moment it was completely evident that buying stuff I don't really need anyway should be the least of my concerns, and that "need" can be a pretty fluid concept.

On my ride, I came to the finish line, but felt like I wasn't done yet, not even close. So I rode back and forth across the finish line a few times, under the arch, passing through backward to emphasize unfinished-ment. Still-left-to-be-done-ness. None of which has anything to do with buying this year's shiny thing, or discarding perfectly good things, but rather just with riding, and seeking, and listening, a search for meeting in that place where we are not satisfied with the superficial or the finite, and you can only buy that which is not sold.

No I don't think so, not yet. Still experiencing, still seeking.


  1. Not finished, what a wonderful thought. Thank you. =)

  2. Love the image of going back and forth over the finish line! Love this post!

    1. Like flirting with the end, dancing on, or with, it, if you will. :)


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