This is what I say to customers in the shop when they are hesitant about buying a new bike. They look at me skeptically, expecting that, like dental work or pilates camp, riding a bike will be painful and difficult and expensive. But they are prepared to shell out because they are convinced that it will be good for them. They say, “well, but I’m not really serious about cycling. I don’t intend to ride it very much”. I say: cycling isn’t supposed to be serious. Let’s find you a bike that will be comfortable. A bike that will be easy to ride uphill and fast to ride downhill. A bike that fits you and makes you feel good. When you find that bike you just might really want to ride it more than you think. When you look at that bike your heart will swell with love. You might even want to ride it all the time. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Karmic Economics’ Category
There are 24 boys on staff at the Bike Doctor. Twenty-four boys, and one other girl, plus Lady Jane who crossed over, and me. They are sweet guys and hot guys and dorks, drinkers and jocks and artists and freaks. We all have greasy fingers and make near minimum wage. The boys drink warm Pabst after closing and talk trash in the basement. When someone wheels in a nut-brown ’60′s Schwinn with a sharks-fin chainguard, or a slender Peugot racer the weight of a feather, we gather round like pigeons and coo. (more…)
I love that image, of compassion or generosity as an autonomic nervous response, as natural as breathing. Every cell like an eye, that sees a need and responds to remedy the situation. We see with any one of our thousand eyes and respond with any one of our thousand hands, in maybe the smallest of gestures, to activate comfort—not only for epic wide-screen suffering but also for the most subtle and personal pain, which is equally deserving of attention and care.
I know I wasn’t born with a thousand eyes. Or if I was, then every eye is wearing dark glasses. (more…)
Once when I was a child, I went on a car trip with my parents. We passed through miles and miles of pine forest between Toronto and Montreal. Looking out the window I was mesmerized by the endless, depthless green. I leaned over to the Oldsmobile’s front seat and said “one day i’m going to go live in the woods.” “You can’t,” said my mother. “It’s all Crown land, or else it is owned by people. You can’t just go there and live.”
I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. When we got to my grandmother’s house in Montreal I lay sobbing on the bathroom floor, my face against the cold tiles. The idea that the forest was owned–a place I could not go–was bigger than I could process. (more…)
I’ve been holding the hands of my friends as they try to absorb the funding cuts to the arts, and the steady decline of sales of concert tickets and cd’s. I see the grief in their eyes – who will get laid off, what will be cancelled? – and I don’t usually have the courage or the insensitivity to say this to their faces. But I don’t believe people are going to get paid to make art for much longer.
Its not that I think that artists don’t deserve to get paid – I know how much of their souls they invest in their craft, how much money, how much time, how much sacrifice. And those of us who have made a decent living in the infrastructure of The Arts – the administrators, the festival coordinators, agents and technicians – have also done it mostly for love, and sometimes at great sacrifice. We never did this to get rich, but we’ve gotten used to doing it to get by. Day by day, cut by cut, around the world – I see this livelihood ending. (more…)
When I write about Karmic Economics, I am always confronted with the fact that I write from a place of great privilege. People say, “well that is all fine for YOU, who have social safety nets – but not everyone has the opportunities you have.”
Of course, this is true. I speak from my own reality, as it is really the only direct perspective that I have. I have never gone hungry or slept on the street.
That being recognized, I need to move forward from the place I am in. With privilege comes responsibility, and I feel like part of my responsibility is to share the opportunities I have and the lessons I am learning as I go. To feel guilty or let myself be silenced by my privilege serves no one. (more…)
I own almost nothing – never have, and probably never will. My income is so tiny that when I file my dutiful tax return I always worry that they won’t believe my numbers. And yet, I have everything I could possibly want.
I have access to spaces and opportunities all over the world. I have good food, plenty and always. Clothing both practical and fun. And no end of available music and art, entertainment and pleasure. Mobility comes in the shape of my bike, a bus pass, comfy shoes and a will to move. Most valuable of all, I have a symbiotic network of friends and acquaintances, diverse co-conspirers and kindred spirits. And I know that no matter what I may have in my pocket, they will always keep me rich as long as I live in service and keep the karmic wheel spinning.
So how did I get to be so rich? What set me on this path? People have been asking me what brought me to this place, and it is a useful question to ask and to answer. (more…)
Ravelling and unravelling, I screw it up, rip it back, start over again. The first one takes forever, the next one only half of forever. I badger my mentors, ask stupid questions, receive patient instruction and tips. Obi Nine guides me through yet another unfathomable server labyrinth and the wool lady gives me a special needle for tucking in the ends. I feel like I’ll never get it and then I do get it, a bit. And then I forget, drop a stitch, erase the code, lose my way. Rip it back a few rows. Make a cup of tea. Start again.
I just finally finished my first pair of fingerless mittens. Made of local sheepswool thick oily and brown. I wore them out to the woodshed to get logs for the stove, air clear and cold and the stars so bright.