28 November 2011

Giving Up Cars

"I live," Eustace said, "in nature, where everything is connected, circular. The seasons are circular. The planet is circular, and so is its passage around the sun. The course of water over the earth is circular, coming down from the sky and circulating through the world to spread life and then evaporating up again. I live in a circular teepee and I build my fire in a circle, and when my loved ones visit me, we sit in a circle and talk. The life cycles of plants and animals are circular. I live outside where I can see this. The ancient people understood that our world is a circle, but we modern people have lost sight of that. I don't live inside buildings, because buildings are dead places where nothing grows, where water doesn't flow, and where life stops. I don't want to live in a dead place. People say that I don't live in the real world, but it's modern Americans who live in a fake world, because they've stepped outside the natural circle of life...

"Do people live in circles today? No. They live in boxes. They wake up every morning in the box of their bedroom because a box next to them started making beeping noises to tell them it was time to get up. They eat their breakfast out of a box and then they throw that box away into another box. Then they leave the box where they live and get into a box with wheels and drive to work, which is just another big box broken up into lots of little cubicle boxes where a bunch of people spend their days sitting and staring at the computer boxes in front of them. When the day is over, everyone gets into the box with wheels again and goes home to their house boxes and spends the evening staring at the television boxes for entertainment. They get their music from a box, they get their food from a box, they keep their clothing in a box, they live their lives in a box! Does that sound like anybody you know?"

 From The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert.
This passage has always spoken to me.

Unfortunately, giving up cars (one box) is not even remotely a possibility for me. I work five miles from home and have to drop kids off at two separate daycares - all a bunch of boxes. Even if I was willing to ride my bike to work, I would have to leave the house at an ungodly hour to get into work at a decent time. And I already push it. So, I have to settle with hoping that someday SOMEDAY I'll be able to find a job closer to the house and only have one drop off point. It's not entirely out of the ordinary.

Nate and I did survive with one car when we lived in Austin. He drove to work and I walked or rode the bus or biked to campus. It was a perfect arrangement. We never lived more than two miles from campus, so I just found jobs on campus or near campus to supplement my income. When I lived in Des Moines I usually biked about three miles to work, so I know I can do it again...

Until then, I try to walk as much as possible or to incorporate errands into my run. Nate and I were very adamant about finding a house in a walkable neighborhood. Luckily we have several eating establishments nearby (Cake Crumbs, Tables, Oblios and The Cherry Tomato, to name a few). There's a small Italian deli/grocery store across the street from a park, which is a block away from a library, and a yoga studio next to a coffee shop and a gymnastic school next to a great liquor store. Benny's daycare is a 10-minute walk away and the elementary school is less than 15 minutes away. Really, if I didn't have to drive to work, I wouldn't leave my bubble.

We can (but rarely do) walk or bike to the Nature and Science Museum and City Park Jazz and the Denver Zoo.

Someday I will bike to work, but today I will start being more conscious about biking or walking to all the great restaurants, stores and venues in my neighborhood.

What do you do to cut down your time in your box with wheels?

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