Our Bicycles, Ourselves

In the morning, I see the dismembered bicycles.

They’re cabled around No Parking signs and waist-high patio fences: a Schwinn without a seat, a Huffy without pedals, an Electra without a wheel.

It’s a protective measure. Bikes as transportation are valuable. Add in experiences and wind-in-the-face shared with them, and bikes can be invaluable. So, we protect them by storing parts away overnight, safely kept from the perilous world.

Last fall, I was out walking. While it was morning, I was mucking around in a rather dark night of the soul, feeling unsatisfied with my life’s direction and unsure how to course correct. And I saw this rusty bike. It had been stripped down to just the frame. Just the frame of a bike hanging comfortably on a fence.

And I thought, “Bicycle, I know that feeling.”

Here I am, storing my wild ideas far away from the perilous world, protecting them out of fear of what the world will do with them. And I’d gotten comfortable just hanging on the fence.

It was a shallow comfort, a comfort of predictability and safety nets. Stewing below the surface was the dissatisfaction, the unfulfillment of wild ideas steadily rusting.

Charles Schulz, through the mouth of Linus or Snoopy, said this about it:

“Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.”

I was underutilizing my own life. And that, I realized, was a poor way to be.

Unsteadily, I took a wild idea out of safe keeping. Unsteadily, I left it out overnight. And then another night and another. Until, I realized that wild idea – which was these Lightning Notes – might have a place in this world.

I’ve still got plenty of parts stored away. But I believe our lives are always ready to come down off the fence. And our gears – all ten of them – are always ready to take us forward.

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