I’m in LA visiting my sister and sans car right now. I was planning to meet my buddy Yu Jiang for lunch and had initially planned to ride my sister’s bike the six or so miles. But as I was getting ready to actually leave the adult me stepped in and decreed it’s voice of reason: “Just uber it. It’s so much easier.” It had been a really long time since I rode a bike. The tires were flat (I’d have to pump them at a gas station), LA drivers are terrible, and well, my sister’s bike has a bunch of neon green and pink skulls on it. Once the idea of taking an uber germinated in my head, it grew rapidly as the only common sense thing to do. I had just about convinced myself to take one, when at the last second I felt compelled to try the bike. It would be a bit scarier, but it’d probably be nice, riding along the bike path from Playa del Rey to Venice.
So I set off. It was a nice day. Pleasant. At first I didn’t think too much of it. But then it began to dawn on me. How picturesque the bike path is along the beach. How calming the ocean and the palm trees and the sand and the gentle ticking of the bike chain are. How much I love riding bikes… feeling the breeze of movement cool you down in equal parts as your heart rate rises. How I had felt this feeling a thousand times in my childhood – riding around my neighborhood, on the way to summer school, and to my high school sweetheart’s house, long before I had a car. And I realized I hadn’t felt this feeling in a long, long time. When the scenery moves at a snail’s pace past you, it’s not a thing going by, but a thing that you are part of.
And it all started to break down. I love riding bikes. I love being outdoors. I love watching the wind ripple through the palm trees and the sound of the birds above me. I love the simplicity and the familiarity, the freedom. I love the aimless moments when I’m not doing anything in particular. Not endlessly thinking, planning, problem solving, yearning, searching … just being. These are the days that make life worth living. A day like this makes the thousand before it worthwhile. A day like this gives meaning to life, gives it happiness. It creates a sense of peace and tranquility that can not be bought or faked.
And it reminded me that all that I do, I do so that I can have days like this. Days where my mind is still. So much of my time is spent working towards goals and attaining things – but hard work needs to be hard work for a purpose. A job should be more than the salary it’s attached to… money should be worth more than the things it buys.
After all, you can have all those things, but unless they bring you closer to days like this, they really are pointless. They are not goals in and of themselves. Sometimes I forget that. And if I think hard about it, I don’t need much to be happy. Just a bike and a free day.