A New Year

It's 2014 and it's January and it's cold and the festive period is mostly behind us and it's still almost 6 weeks until Presidents Day and its many sales on mattresses so we must trundle on and make of mid winter what we can and make in mid winter what for which we have the ingredients. For example, I have egg noodles and bacon and cabbage and that makes a delightful meal for a cold evening and a perfectly adequate meal to be reheated as the next day's lunch. But enough about winter and cabbage and lunches- let us talk about winter and bicycles and the new year and the old year and goals and resolutions and the HMS Resolute, which itself and its crew knew of cold and winter and sails, but maybe not of bicycles and perhaps only had a passing acquaintance with lunch- I'm not an expert at 19th century nautical meal patterns. Anyway.

I don't count my miles. As someone whose main use of bicycle is in repeating the same route five times weekly and repeating in reverse the same route five times weekly, any miles I gain in the morning, I wipe out in the evening. It's like the lunar tides. Does the moon count how far it moved the oceans each day? Nope. It just does it and it probably doesn't think too much about it because, frankly, the moon is just a giant spherical space rock and it most likely lacks powers of cognition and meta-cognition ("Remix to Metacognition" is easily one of my favorite completely fictitious R Kelly parody songs of the last decade). Tides aren't measured cumulatively (I don't think at least) and any case, the moon, along with not knowing or caring about what it's doing, is very far away and cold and couldn't not pull the tides even if it wanted to stop. I could stop bicycling to work, but that would be lunacy. 

I remember when I took art history in high school and towards the beginning of the fall semester, we talked about traditional African tribal masks and we were shown slides of two masks. One of the masks was elaborately done with tremendous detail and intricacy and the other was carved less ornately and far more simply. It looked barely carved at all and seemed crudely done.We were asked to identify which was done first chronologically and like a good positivist, it seemed obvious to me that the progression went from simple to ornate. Over time, the mask carvers got better and were able to carve with greater detail and skill. Things go, as they go, from simple to complex. 

I was wrong.

The more ornate mask came first and the simpler mask was carved much later. Rather than learning to carve with ever greater detail, the artists learned to eschew the ornate and to carve just what was absolutely essential to convey the essence of the mask's "maskness." Things went, as they went, from complex to simple. 

I tend not to set goals or have resolutions. I thought that I had an ok 2013 and I think I'll probably have an ok 2014. One thing that I don't plan to do in 2014 is write about bike commuting and "safety" because I find that topic boring and I don't think I have much to add to it. Can bicycling be dangerous? Yes. Should places try to make it safer? Sure. Are perceptions of safety a big inhibitor to more people cycling? I guess. Do I add anything to the conversation by writing OMFG UNSAFE BIKING GAHHHH? I'm doubtful. Others do it with much greater pathos and reasonableness and I will leave it to them. I will also continue to avoid writing about bikes and traffic laws. Also, about bikes and sea monsters because that would be weird. It's not like I live along the ocean, much less bike in it and the likelihood of my chancing upon a sea monster, however wayward, this far inland are minuscule and my commitment to verisimilitude far outweighs any extra page hits shanties on sea monsters might bring. Plus, I gotta keep a gimmick for 2015. Argh. 

There are lots of other things that I think I can write about in 2014, but we'll have to let circumstances decide. It's good to be proactive, but I don't really have any off-hand axes that I wish to grind, mostly because I got a great ax grinding gift certificate for Christmas, so I'll instead decide to be reactive, though hopefully, never reactionary. I tend to believe that change itself, for better or worse, is good and things change even if you do the same thing every day and I'm generally content to look upon change (but not nickels or pennies- they are the worst) and marvel and smirk and resignedly sigh and laugh and frown and smile and react to it and maybe sometimes I'll write things down about it and maybe sometimes those things will be interesting to you or me or both of us. As far as bicycling in DC is concerned, I'd say that generally we're changing in the right direction, but for the most part, the thing that is changing isn't so much the direction but the "we." It's a bigger we than it was when I joined and I hope that this year, the we continues to grow less wee. No one wants a wee we. 

I wish you all the best in the new year. Have a lovely time with it. As always, thank you for reading. 

1 comment:

  1. If commuting is like the tides, is riding a loop like a planet orbiting the sun? I always seem to get back to the same place but there still seems to be value in it. And something changes, if me just getting a wee bit older, though not wiser.

    Here's to more simplicity and a bigger we.