The Bikin' Fools



The American Way: BUY HAPPINESS!!!

It finally struck me. I could never figure out the SUV thing. Why in the world would people buy such monstrosities that are not only injurious to their own well being, but are horrifically polluting to the Grand Mother earth. This lose-lose equation has baffled me for a long time.

Believe it or not, it relates to bicycling. It has to do with that elevated feeling of joy, of healthfulness, of being OK in the world. The feeling that you belong and are a valued member of the scene. The great majority of Americans are not independently wealthy. As such, they must go to work, earn some sort of cash flow and pay the bills. Only a greedy few and a couple of lootery winners are able to get up in the morning, put their feet on the desk and smoke a big cigar.

As our modern way of living advanced, more and more "time saving" items became available for the consumer to use. (ostensibly to "save" time) However, with each increment towards more freedom of time there came a price penalty that greatly diminished the "time saved". It became a race to work hard enough to capitalize upon the advantage of the machinery. Now most people have entirely lost their freedom and scramble from day to day, living only a scant fine line from utter, modern financial disaster. But we have out goodies, our SUV’s. What we don’t have is freedom. In that loss we have tried to find substitutes for freedom. The biggest sub on the block is TV. It is not only a bad substitute for life, but it drains life. (medical studies show lower metabolism in TV watchers).

There is an inherent drive in all animals to experience happiness and joy. Virtually all of our historical avenues to this feeling of joy have been modified over the centuries. Only a handful of original venues remain. The superhighway of them all is sex. Beyond that people have discovered other ways to mine the good feelings of life. Drugs are another way. Our tribal history was once rich with ceremony that affirmed and supported each member of the clan. Now we seek substitutes for that acceptance. The tribe has long since given way to separation by modern times and especially TV.

But there’s hope for the lost tribe of mankind. Now (according to Madison Ave.) you can belong by simply buying an SUV. Dang if it doesn’t work. People have the feeling of identity. Look at all of the other SUV’s. We’re happy now. In addition to this feeling of belonging, one can experience an intense endorphin rush at the point of purchase. These are the same ‘feel good’ drugs that naturally occur in our bodies. It is the feeling one gets when they just scored the winning point in an important match. It is the YES! Drug of the body.

It is clear that most Americans have lost touch with their own natural ability to find joy and happiness that is sustainable. The SUV represents only temporary relief from the otherwise drab lives that represent the modern industrial age. There are a few industrial-age machines that can tap into the primeval, natural core of joyful living. One such contraption is the bicycle. It combines many elements (exercise, concentration, nature) to produce a solid, healthy feeling of happiness and joy. Similar, perhaps, to the SUV, one can experience buyer’s remorse when spending mind-boggling amounts of money on a bike, but unlike the SUV, the bike will provide lasting benefits.