Zen on Two Wheels
Saturday Feb. 9, 2002
The good news is that today I bought a bicycle. The bad news is….there isn’t any bad news. Yesterday I was out on Athena’s bike, just drifting around when I happened upon a bicycle repair shop. This may be no big thing to you, but this is Greece and a bike repair shop isn’t that easy to find. The guy, I forget his name, though he told it to me, had some used bikes for sale, looking grungy enough to fit my budget. I pointed at one and asked, and he said “No problem, my friend. I feex and tomorrrrrow you take. 60 evRO.” My guy was as good as his word, and today I took delivery of my new old bicycle. He put it into the best shape possible and it is quite rideable. I took it out on the long jetty that protrudes into the harbor. This is heaven. Riding out into the sea with the mountains in the distance is about as close as one can come to riding out on the water itself. Whizzing along with the water on both sides is like shooting through a tube made of sky and sea, an ecstatic blue-white warp in the very fabric of Samsara, illuminated and vibrating like a bouzouki string.
Cycling has become a passion for me. Since I bought that first used bike in Athens two years ago, the place occupied by my bike has expanded, and cycling fills many functions in my current life. A bicycle is first a means of independent locomotion, free of many of the societal constraints which chafe. I am not subject to the dehumanizing haste which mass transport imposes upon us. I do not have to deal with Greek or German or Italian taxi drivers. Of course, though I drive anyway, I have no license and I am always just a little bit worried that some cop will stop me. I happily whiz by cops on the bike, ignoring one way signs and hopping curbs with casual abandon. Traffic is a transparent matrix through which I can weave, oblivious to the snail’s pace of all those cars. Parking is instantaneous. One is not obliged to possess a license to drive or pay taxes or insurance to whatever foul little conspiracy constitutes the local state. Fuel is food. There is a smug satisfaction in knowing that one is not contributing to the cloud of poison gas which hovers over our cities and renders them less and less habitable.
Cycling is good for me. Since I provide the propulsive force, my body benefits in many ways. I burn off the calories which would otherwise pump flab into my love handles and my butt, keeping my girlish figure trim to assist me when pursuing young women.
Cycling provides me with a sovreign cure for states of obsessive melancholy and foul dark depression which often threaten to swallow me. Once my fat ass is planted in that saddle (getting up and running in the first place is half the battle) I just pedal, paying little heed to destination, seeking to inhabit the eternal now of the beginner’s mind, letting my inner monologue babble on as it likes, but refusing to acknowledge that the inner rapper is running the show. Before long whatever bee was in my bonnet, whatever burr was under my saddle, whatever great crying hysteria threatens to overwhelm me is soon forgotten. The increased flow of oxygenated blood to my brain has been known to induce states of, dare I say it? Dare! Dare! contentment, HAPPINESS. There! I can say it. The “H word”. Huh-ah-pee.
I decided not long ago that I could manage the load of dreck and codswollop that life hurls at me, provided I have three things.
- A computer
- A woman
- A bicycle
Praise Elvis. I’m saved.