Bicycles are those two-wheeled instruments of transportation that kids view as a form of freedom of spirit. Younger teens, those prior to driving age, view them as a more rapid way of getting from one place to another than walking, (but only if that place is in walking distance to begin with.) Any further and mom needs to take them in the car. (No, this is not a column on understanding your teenager). We adults view bicycles almost strictly as a medium of exercise, though some adults secretly enjoy riding bicycles around the neighborhood or on the beach pretending it isn’t for the exercise but just for the enjoyment. Right, it’s for the exercise. Don’t let them kid you!
What if we could ride bicycles one more time looking out of the eyes of a 10-year-old child? Would that have any lasting effect to change us? One of the things that I love about the county, Georgetown, is that the pace of life is a lot slower than most other places where I have lived. Though, it is somewhat faster than it was back in the late ‘90’s and early 2000’s when I lived here before. Georgetonians take the time to stop and talk to their neighbors that they see in Wal-Mart or somewhere along the sidewalks on Front Street. Cashing a check can take fifteen minutes after you cash it if you go inside the bank because everyone wants to chat. I like that.
However, most of us are like the teens when it comes to going anywhere. We take the car (if your teenager hasn’t already borrowed it). What if we could see bicycles once again as a ten year old does? Not just as a mode of transportation or exercise, but an adventure in the making of getting from one place to another, or maybe even of getting nowhere (ending up where you started from). Forget that it is good for you. Forget that it is exercise. That’s not the point. You’ll have fun, and you’ll actually hear the crickets in the evening or the birds singing and the children playing as you are riding along.
I am a private pilot, though one, I confess that hasn’t flown a small plane in years because of the sheer expense of renting one. But in a small plane, even with the windows open you cannot hear anything except for the roar of the engine, which by the way is a good thing. It is a good thing, because if you don’t hear the roar of that engine, then you need to be looking for a good safe place to make an emergency landing.
But back to what I was saying about hearing what is going on around you, a small plane is different from a hot air balloon. My younger brother is a hot air balloon pilot. He has told me many stories of hearing people talking on the ground as he passes silently overhead. Hearing a car going down a country road or horses galloping in a pasture, and yes the laughter of children as they are playing in the yards below him. All are sounds that rise up to him as he silently passes over them. We all need to find a way to hear what is going on around us, without passing everything by in a noisy car with the windows rolled up. Riding a bike is a good way to do that.
I remember as a young boy how the kids of the neighborhood would get together for a bike-a-thon. Of course we didn’t call it that, we didn’t call it anything. We just all got on our bikes and rode. Most of the time we didn’t even have a place in mind to go; we just got on our bikes and rode. The excitement was in being on one’s own bike, being with your friends and exploring the “unknown” together. We would stop for a while and sit under the shade of a tree and talk and laugh. We would stop at Dempsey’s gas station and get a coke or two and share that between all four or five of us.
Life did not pass us by. We lived it, breathed it. Life kept pace with us. We didn’t have to go chase after it. It was with us, and we enjoyed every minute of it.
Ecclesiastes 5:18 tells us, “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot.”
God expects us to enjoy life. He created us with that built in desire for it. Of course God wants to be a part of your life. We get so busy trying to chase what we believe are the good things of life because we feel life is passing us by. We leave God out of our lives and a lot of enjoyment of this life is lost in our rush to chase after it. Life keeps up with YOU on a bicycle. The joy and happiness of life followed you as a kid when you were riding with your friends. There were no problems no worries, just the wind in your face as you and your friends peddled faster down the road to nowhere in particular.
Maybe we should all buy bicycles and meet our friends at East Bay Park or any park this Saturday and go riding together. Two things to remember: Bring your old set of 10-year-old’s eyes that you used to have and tie anybody to a tree and leave them behind if they try to organize this thing! Happy new life experiences to all! Oh yes, remember to go by and untie those friends on your way home. Anyone ready for a bike ride to nowhere in particular?
Brad Morris, a retired minister, originally from Georgetown, served as a pastor and then as a missionary in Costa Rica and Ecuador, can be reached at email@example.com. He has been in ministry for 50 years and a columnist for 17 years, 13 of which have been for the Georgetown Times.