I’m feeling guilty. I’ve been repeatedly told it’s very difficult to live here without a car and I’m trying to have a hard time, but it really isn’t working.
I’m trying to miss the car culture in which we can drive 3km or less to our destination instead of walking, or drive into a congested city centre on a Saturday and avoid changing from bus to tram twice to get there, even though it’s quicker. I know that’s the normal way of life locally, and I do try and feel guilty for not partaking in it.
You can be sure that when I stop at traffic lights and say hello to the old lady crossing it, I tell myself that I’ve missed the thrill of cutting across just before the lights changed. I berate myself that I could have saved an extra few seconds- and that those lost seconds could have made all the difference to my daily productivity. While riding on a Feldweg I remind myself of the joy of sitting in a small tin box cut off from the world while watching the line of traffic in front move another five metres closer to the next junction, and of course the fun of honking the horn at any cars, trucks, bikes, people and large dogs that get in the way of my car.
It’s a bit easier to feel miserable in the rain, especially when it is horizontal, or there’s a headwind, which is the only sort of wind there is when you’re on a bike, but that doesn’t happen nearly enough: after a few days the rain subsides and I’m horrified to find that I’m enjoying myself again.
When I think that instead of the cold morning breeze I could be breathing carefully filtered air to a temperature of my choosing, and breathing it twice, I am unmoved. When I hear the birdsong and the sounds of the river I’m passing, I remind myself that if I was driving, I could just as easily be listening to my own choice of CD’s, but this does not make me feel that my life is somehow lacking. I try and become stressed when I see the prices posted by petrol stations, but to be honest I rarely notice petrol stations and the prices they are so irrelevant as to be meaningless, so that doesn’t work either. The passing advantages of being sick less often, having a healthy body, less chance of heart disease and obesity related problems, and possibly living ten years longer have caused me to lose perspective.
If anyone out there has a suggestion how I could try and be more miserable let me know. In the meantime you may rest assured that I will try and believe I’m having a hard time, or at least feel thoroughly guilty for having so much fun.