This post originally appeared at Red Kite Prayer, in slightly altered form.
We are here at home, my wife and I, the kids, and we are doing our best. Wait, no that’s not right. We are trying to figure out what is best, how best to organize our days, so that work gets done, and the kids aren’t being raised by TikTok, and the dog isn’t being neglected, and we all have quality time together, but also a chance to be on our own, some privacy, some something that means more than being stuck at home together for the foreseeable.
And so I went to the car to look for a thing that I knew perfectly well wasn’t in the car. The car is outside. I spent more time looking than I needed to just to confirm what I already knew, and then I turned back toward the house and took the first few steps up to the front door, and I paused.
We need to change how we do things. This never stops being true.
When I throw a leg over one of my bikes, an inventory list appears in my mind’s eye. Lube chain. Tension rear derailleur. Pump front tire. Roll bars up and back ever so slightly. The bike is perfect, but it also needs to change.
In the morning, I do the Times crossword and drink coffee. I like words, and my aging mother does the puzzle every day, and it gives us something small to talk about. But this sets the wrong tone for midweek, which, though we are just here at home doing what we can do, wants to be more businesslike. I should attend to the dog first, before caffeine, before distractions. I should ride my perfect bike.
I throw a leg over and push away down the street. I go right at the end, to the small rise, and then left out of the neighborhood, because to do otherwise is to go too precipitously up or down, and it’s too early for that. And so I ride this pattern that I don’t even think about, and my rides are good, but they are not the best. I should maybe let myself careen down the hill into the pump of traffic, or up into the strain of the next hill.
Something needs to change.
I don’t believe in optimization. That’s not what this is about, and anyway I’m too old for that shit. My incremental gains are too incremental. I believe in paradigm shifts. I believe in overturning apple carts. I believe in breaking myself to make what’s left more whole, in changing, always, for the better.
Newton taught us that the world is inertial. We thought he was just describing the movement of objects. In fact, even ideas are inertial, and they will keep rolling even after they’ve lost momentum. I went to the car to find what wasn’t there, and what I discovered is that we need to do things differently, every day, in all the small ways. It’ll make being here at home so much better.