Why ride a bike?

More and more people are looking for alternative, environmentally friendly transporation. I’m one of them.

For me, this means using what I already have, a 1988 mountain bike, to get to and from more of the places I need to be at. I did need a few things — a lock, a helmut, a seat pad, and a carrier on the back.

For the most part I just like it. It feels good. But also, over time, I’ve noticed a deepening of reasons for me to ride a bike.

1) Yes, gas is getting very expensive, now over $3 per gallon. Filling up our car now takes $50, a jolt from the $25 -30 that it was a few years ago. Riding my bike to my office, a distance of 10 miles each way, could save $10-50 per month.

2) Yes, a little exercise doesn’t hurt either. Well, actually it can. But it is a benefit that I’ve been wanting to weave into a more regular pattern anyway. Gotta get there — why not make it exercise.

3) What started as a desire to not pollute as much quickly spun to a new level — being in a more cooperative relationship with the environment. I’m not sure all of what that means, but what feels strong is a partnering realtionship. My little steps may not change the world that much, but they do change me. Health through exercise creates healthy muscles, lungs, etc. I also sense health through willingly collaborating might even be more lasting.

4) This one came through my first ride to my office, riding a bike invites a different relationship to time. American culture is so oriented to speed and efficiency. In so many ways, riding a bike is not efficient. It took me 45 minutes to get to work, without trying to race. In my car it would have taken half the time. My cell phone rang / vibrated three times while I was riding. That all had to wait. In my car, I would have answered and had those calls taken care of before arriving at work. I don’t think I can let go of all of the efficiency / speed connections here, but I have to say that I really liked the invitation to break through the speed obsession. It was nice to smell, see, hear in ways that I wouldn’t in my car.

I have a lot of reasons that bike riding is inconvenient. And some are more serious — even riding on the side of cars is dangerous. And let’s not forget the negative impact of inhaling exhaust. But in the end, the lasting impact for me is the commitment to collaborate and deliberately choose another kind of relationship to time. All beautiful surprises for the simple step of riding a bike.

New Beginnings

New Beginnings is a gathering in the Mormon church that welcomes 11 year-old girls into a religious-based development program for 12-18 year-olds, the Young Women’s organization (YW). Tonight Zoe, Kari and I attended New Beginnings.

Their values are impressive: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, and integrity. The program challenges each young woman to accomplish particular goals over the next six years related to each value. The YW leaders offered several stories to inspire the new and existing young women.

To encourage Zoe to reflect on what she was hearing, I asked her what she liked most about the evening. “When Sister Stevens talked about the tsunami.” The YW volunteer president, Lenore Stevens, had described the conditions preceding the tsunami that devastated Thailand in 2005. The tide receded drastically before the tsunami crashed upon the land. Zoe reflected the intended point clearly — “To watch for the warning signs and to move away.”

This message was a well-delivered story of warning, supplemented with several religious practices to move toward, including reading scriptures, praying, and serving others.

As I listened, I found myself thinking about what “moving towards” could also be? What are other practices that celebrate and welcome us in to a full aliveness and beauty in the soul’s journey?

Here are a few that feel important to me:

Use our hands in the earth – plant a garden, work the soil, feel the dirt.
Take a walk – five minutes, fifteen minutes, or a couple of hours to feel the different rhythm of being outside.
Sit under the moon – just listen, just empty out.
Listen to friends – and take turns speaking honestly with them – Zoe shared this with me after a particularly moving experience with ten of her friends last week. Lots of wisdom in those simple words.
Be curious – embrace inquiry. Is life not filled with wonderful mystery.
Create together – projects, conversations of learning. Creating is a fundamental need and, I believe, instinct for human beings.

I wonder what others feel about moving toward that celebrates and opens us to abundance in life?

And Things Get Done

Once I touch the space
of connection,
whether through a person,
a meditation,
an energy field,
a walk on this earth,
sitting next to or under a tree,
creating with others,
deep listening,
being still,
then all things feel more possible.

My insignificant work cracks open
with even a bit of significance
and I get things done.
My strain softens to even a tiny smile
and I get things done.
The flow of abundance feels real,
washing over my toes.
Sometimes I just let go and flow with it
and things get done.
Problems transform to learning and creation
and things get done.
Solutions appear;
things get more done.

Is it really this simple?
Love gives us entry.
Love of another.
Love of self.
Love of life.
Love of colleagues.
Love of simplicity.
Love of the possible.
And things get done.

It is our time.
It is my time
to train in trust
to lean into love
to receive, to offer
to just be.
It is time to restore
simple, beautiful, creativity
that is in us and between us.
And things get done.

Learning from Aspen Forests

Learning from Aspen Forests

Meg Wheatley first taught me that aspen trees grow as a collective system. What looks like a forest of many trees is an underground web of connected roots, popping up occasionally as a tree. It is one system. I wonder what conditions create the popping up, the emergence of a tree.

I wonder if “mates,” learning partners could be seen this way. The root system is an energetic field or pattern. Each of us are like trees, appearing as individuals. Yet we are really a woven web. What are the conditions that help us grow? What light to one part of the system feeds the others?

It is interesting to me to think that not all trees or people in the system are connected to all others in a direct way. But they are all in the same system.

Is the deep calling to live the energetic pattern? Is it presence that creates the connection? Presence — sensing the field as the necessary condition for popping up or for nurturing our selves and our neighbors. Presence — as doorway into the pattern of living energy that seeks to create. It is in us. It is in the earth. It is in all living things. It is in other beings from other realms.

So, how do we support change?
– amplify the energy pattern of living things, always creating
– live in the stream created between people
– connect the system to more of itself

If a tree has no choice but to become a tree, what is it that we humans have no choice in becoming? We must become what?

Does a tree love its neighbor tree? Is love unique to human beings? Is love the contribution to the energetic roots that we humans uniquely can offer?

What am I on the edge of seeing here?

Aspens draw from earth nutrients, from the sky’s light and warmth. A link to grow is a wandering root. All together produces a tree that fits so beautifully into a forest. The forest provides exponentially more than the individual — oxygen, stability, shade, ecological home. People aslo draw from earth nutrients, from the sky’s light and warmth. The link is the wandering person? All together produces a being that fits so beautifully into a human forest? The human forest also provides exponentially more — a system capable of change, of creation.