21 March 2011
On The Street (Outside of the Car)
There is a value to being on the street that we don't know of until we actually get out of our protective Japanese/German/Detroit-built car-shells.
There is a connectedness found in pavement meeting the soles of shoes or the tread of skinny bicycle tires.
Suffering can be noticed while one is walking and one's gait is easier to adjust than the thousands of pounds of automobile that we pilot. A bicycle allows for noise and smell to penetrate the riders space, something no dual-climate auto-defrost motorcar would ever forcefully impose upon it's loving owner.
Occasionally, we actually meet people in such a manner, on the street, whether just for a passing conversation or in the midst of their time of need.
I ran into my friend/brother/leader/minister Ryan Callahan this way recently. He lives in our 78201 neighborhood and he was crossing the street walking to HEB as I was waiting on the traffic light to let my bicycle leave HEB.
He was carrying a bicycle wheel.
I pulled over to the sidewalk and we chatted about energy drinks and the tardiness of mass transit. And, somewhere in there, his tire revealed that he had a bicycle problem, a bum wheel.
I think he ended up borrowing my bike long enough to air up the tires and make it nicer for me to take back a day or two later. Still, what if his need had lingered and my surplus could have helped longer? On the street, my excess met his need. Back on the street, his generosity bettered my excess and it will now be ready for the next person who comes along.
He meets people like this all day, on the bus and on his bike. He reaches into his pockets and his heart and gives them bits of himself. And to think he would never know the need unless he sat on a bicycle saddle or a VIA bus...
This is not some call to guilty abandonment of efficient travel or some high-minded sermon on living among "the people".
This is simply a recognition of the tremendously beautiful way that the street can connect us - as long as we're willing to be connected to it.