All sorts of things are coming into alignment for me at the moment, new beginnings, final endings; cycles of all sorts coming full circle. I began this blog a year ago, near the start of the Chinese New Year, which is apon us once again. It is the year of The Boar, the same place on the Chinese calendar when my son was born, and much is happening related to The Boy, and parenting him.
Many things coming together, both Yin and Yang, and several are weighing heavy on my soul. Among them are these two:
The first is a number:One Ton. A few weeks ago, as part of a cycling advocacy project I was working on, I was doing research and crunching numbers related to auto emissions. Math has never been my fortay, but in the interest of cycling advocacy ~and bullet-proof stats~ I did some calculations, and the result has been haunting me. The point of the exercise was to illustrate the value and impact of replacing even a small number of car miles with cycling, in doing the reseach I found that automobiles produce between 1000 and 2,500 lbs of C02 per 1000 miles, with the average car trip being less than 10 miles. This makes individual transportation choices a very powerful and very effective means of reducing Greenhouse gases. An individual who replaces just 20 miles of driving per week with cycling literally eliminates the release of over a ton of greenhouse gases annually. One ton of C02.
This is, of course, great news: absent good government, policy changes or a giant carbon zapper in the sky, individuals can eliminates literally tons of toxins and carcinogens by riding less than 4 miles a day. I find that this knowledge is making me hyper~conscience of any time I make any use if a motor vehicle in any fashion. If I ask The Boy's father to come pick him up from my house, rather than dropping our son at his office by bike, thats 6 miles. If I accept a ride to school from a fellow student, thats 10 miles. Those choices add up, both ways.
The second thing tickling my brain happened on the precipice of this New Year, I met a man who has never bought so much as a single gallon of gas ~not ever. Now in his 30's, he has been riding a bike since childhood, and has never owned a car. I like to think of myself as a radical visionary who thinks outside the box and is able to imagine the most unfathomable and unlikely of alternatives. But the notion of someone never once succumbed to the automobile at any point in their life, to have lived car free from day one. Apparently, it can be done, and I live in a town with a guy who is doing it. I am in awe.
Perhaps it is my connection to the Year of the Boar, the Year my magical boy was born, or the fact that celebrating the new year at a time when you can sense all the signs of the change of season, rather in the dead of winter, has always felt more authentic to me; in any event I am feeling this New Year potently, and all that one associates with the New Year. I am feeling a renewed excitement about to cycling and cycling advocacy. Armed with the knowledge that one can go years without using a car, as well as a deeper understanding of the impact a single individual can have in doing so, I am feeling renewed energy ~and urgency~ around these issues.
The concers are so monumental, and the stakes so high, both essential and danting, I have been taking comfort in a passage from the Talmud:
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief.
Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not
obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."
There is much work to do, and we all have part to play
May we all be the change we wish to see in this new year.