Let’s start from a place of comfort. You’re sitting inside on your couch, cozied up in the warmth, maybe with a blanket. When you look out the window at the lovely Pacific Northwest out there, it’s grey. Perhaps it’s drizzling. Perhaps it’s pouring. No matter what, it’s cozier and warmer and more comfortable in there on your couch.
It would be easy just to stay there, a state of comfortable stasis.
But staying there is a kind of death, and that’s why bike commuting makes me a better person.
Every morning when I get up and have to go to work, or to a class, or to the library, or a friend’s house, or wherever, I know I will be getting on my bicycle to do so. In the gustiest of winds and the dumpingest of rains and coldest of days, I will bundle myself up and roll out my bicycle and take off. It’s just how I do. It’s how I’ve consciously decided to do and continue to decide to do each day that I don’t purchase a car. And no matter how it seems from the couch, it’s always great once I get going.
Years and years of steeling myself and heading out have taught me that it’s always nicer pedaling around outside than it seems it would be from a place of comfort and warmth inside. And I’m always thankful to have roused myself. But sometimes, I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t initially had to — that is, if I’d had an option to take a car — I might have taken the easy way out, the comfortable way. And though in the moment I might have been grateful, over the long run, I would be giving way to complacency rather than the activity and movement that actually make me happy.
Over years of bike commuting, I’ve learned that if I just suck it up and get started, I’ll be happier. That I can sit on my couch and bemoan the weather, but if I just embrace it and get on with my life, I will feel alive and vibrant and thankful that I’m out. Now, fortified with thousands of days of past experience, it’s fairly easy for me to get over the initial activation energy required to put on my jacket and jump into the rain. But if I hadn’t had to throw myself outside for the years and years that I’ve gotten everywhere I need to by bicycle, I don’t know that I would ever have built up this internal resilience, this years-long lived reminder that however crappy it seems it is always worth it to set forth.
That’s why I say bike commuting has made me a better person. The habit of being able to roust yourself from a place of comfort to an unknown future (or an uncomfortable-seeming commute) is a difficult one. Let’s face it: comfort is comfortable. I love comfort. But too much of it kills my soul. And I suspect too much of it slowly and imperceptibly kills many other people’s souls too, except that they never realize it, just sort of wonder what’s wrong without being able to muster the power to change.
So thank goodness for my commute by bicycle, and a big thank you to my past self who made the decision not to buy a car. Investing in a happy, healthy, and bike-filled future: comfortable, but never too comfortable.