I had a traumatic experience this week.
Actually…I had a couple traumatic experiences this week, among them the guy who rolled down his car window to ask if I was wearing jeggings, and I’m angry about this and other things and I’ve been taking out my anger on cars as usual. When they invade my space I hit them as hard as I can. Literally. As. Hard. As. I. Can. My dad will be disappointed to hear about this because he’s afraid that one day one of these cars is going to run me over, which is a legitimate fear. Sorry dad. However, I think this kind of works as an outlet for my anger because cars are not people. Cars are like pillows. When you are mad, go hit a car instead of hitting your brother. That said, it is probably not very healthy that I am hitting cars as an outlet for my anger.
But anyways, besides being accused of wearing jeggings, I had another traumatic experience this week. The traumatic experience. I broke my bike. I mean, it was technically already a little broken. The handlebars were bent from the time when I crashed in the rain. A plastic part of the shifter was broken from the time I got doored. But none of this really mattered to me because my bike worked. Broken shifter, bent handlebars, but it still pedaled.
This time I really broke it. And it was no one’s fault but my own (and maybe the previous owner). I was just tinkering, taking off parts and cleaning them. The bottom bracket was giving me trouble. And since it was the bottom bracket I knew more trouble was coming. There are few things that render a bike useless. But those things do exist: bent derailleur hangers, cracks in the frame, frozen seat posts and frozen bottom brackets.
The more I fought with the bottom bracket the more I realized that my bike was on the brink. The bottom bracket had rusted together so that one side stuck to the other. While extracting one side, the other side got sucked in, stuck and angry in the depths of the bike frame. This was one of those things where it looked like the bike might be done for good. If we couldn’t get it out there was no way we could ever get a new one in. We could use power tools to cut it out as a last resort, but this would likely damage the frame beyond repair.
As the seriousness of what I had done sank in I chanted to myself. I don’t care about things. I don’t care about things. I don’t care about things. So what if I lost this thing? I had more things. I had more of this specific thing that we call a bike. But still.
I consider myself a minimalist. Although that will probably make some minimalists laugh. I have three bikes, to start, and that isn’t very minimalist. But I do move and travel often and when the time comes I take the small amount of things that I have accumulated and I discard them with no more than a shrug of the shoulders. Two suitcases. That’s what you need to move to a new city. And maybe a bike. Maybe a guitar. Maybe a yoga mat. (Unfortunately not all three at the same time. That’s too much.) The stripping down gets easier over time. Oh I saved that last time and look what good it did me…none. But it also gets harder over time. Because when it’s all whittled down, the value placed on the items that remain is multiplied. The things that remain are the things that you absolutely have to have to…be.
I feel this way about my bike. About all of my bikes. The one that I broke isn’t my most valuable bike, but it is my favorite for riding around this city. It’s red and zippy and squeezes between cars and flies down hills and if I don’t have that bike and if I can’t do those things like zip through cars especially in the spring with the sun gets warms and we take off our jackets and then hit the cars on the hood with all of my strength when I get mad WHO AM I?
Well, I don’t have to answer that question for now. Because after all of my chanting and deals with the devil…and some miraculous problem-solving from Jake at the shop, my bike is still alive.
Watch out cars, I’m coming for ya.
Minimalism isn’t necessarily asceticism. I would tend towards a “curated” approach, you are allowed to have things that bring you joy. Consider them artistic installations for the soul, their purpose may not be entirely functional, but they have worth beyond that.
Enjoy your bike, which is the physical embodiment of freedom and exhilaration, the losing of which would be more than a few pounds of steel and rubber .
Il fix mine one day, its sitting stripped down in a dusty corner waiting on new brake mounts