9.29.2006

Walked in the City and Found Nature

I've blogged often about how nice it is to walk or bike to work
instead of driving. Usually, it's about being able to get a read on
the vibe of a city, interacting with people, literally rubbing elbows.
Versus when you're in a car, walled off by sound and distance from
others, able to listen to the radio instead of engaging with people at
eye level.

But on my daily commutes I've also discovered, to my surprise in the
big bad city, that I'm more in touch with nature, as well. I started
my new job in May, so until now my commutes have been during summer
months, and they've been very pleasant -- the sun is out, but it's
cool enough to tolerate. Now, though, we're into fall, and I've had
to wear a light jacket some days, and I find that the sun is in my
eyes when I head east in the morning, and it's in my eyes when I head
west in the evening. Pretty soon, there won't be any sun at all, and
I'll commute in darkness; and I'll have to deal with colder temps and
snow.

Contrast that to driving, with your temperature control and your
tinted windshields and your wipers. I am reminded, instead, when I
walk or bike, that nature is still stronger and grander than me, that
there was once a time when we were all subject to nature's whims, and
there are times even in the present when we are completely at its
mercy. I am reminded that there are four distinct seasons, each with
their joys and frustrations, not deadened by the power to change my
surroundings so that they are always in my control to make how I want
them to be year-round.

I'm not glamourizing the past or suggesting we return to it -- after
all, we once lived in a time without water purification or
immunization shots, and we need more of that, not less. I'm just
saying that if you drive to work and can at all walk or bike instead,
do it every once in awhile. In addition to the easier pace and the
benefits of exercise, you might just get to know your city a little
better. And you might be surprised to find yourself closer to nature,
remembering that while we might have some control over how it affects
us, we are ultimately smaller and less powerful than we realize.

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