Harness yourself to something breathtaking!…

Bicycles are humble machines, but I believe they have the potential to change peoples’ lives, change the face of our cities, and — if we let them — even change the world.

Unfortunately, and perhaps somewhat ironically for someone who has dedicated her life to peddling and promoting bicycles, the nobility of these humble machines can easily get displaced by more pedestrian concerns. Such as managing customer orders, meeting payrolls, receiving inventory and keeping an eye on the bottom line, which is always in danger of eroding under pressures from the shaky economy, fickle marketplace and internet sales. It can be hard to keep your focus on changing the world when you’re busy counting change.

This is perhaps true for anyone who ever took a job, or started a business out of conviction. Lofty ideals, which once propelled us into a noble line of work, after many years can take a back seat to routine. And the job, once purposeful and liberating , can make us feel bored, stuck and wondering if we’re still capable of being relevant. Sometimes, we dream of getting away from it all, moving to the mountains, living on a farm, selling our possessions to travel the world! But… we’ve invested so much… there’s so much we’d have to change… so much we’d have to give up… Anyway, it’s just a stupid dream.

After thinking about this a lot, I’ve come to ask: why does MASSIVE CHANGE, in our mind’s eye, seem appealing (at least from a distance), when small changes do not? Why does uprooting our lives to travel in an RV van can seem like a sensible solution, when setting our alarm clocks to 5am so we can go for a walk in nature does not? Why can starting with a clean slate seem like a guaranteed answer, while going back over our lives, crossing out and re-writing some small sections of the script, or riffing on a footnote somewhere, seems so daunting?

Cutting loose may be a great option for some, but surely, most of us can recapture rewarding, joy filled lives in which we find expression for our innermost dreams, without leaving our spouses and everything we hold dear, selling our homes, and moving across continents.

What if you or I are still capable of noble flights? Wouldn’t it be a shame to give up and never find out? What if I absolutely committed to something bigger than myself, bigger than my brick-and-mortar business, and let it shape me? An idea, an entity to bring together and inspire one-time dreamers who now, like me, sometimes feel stuck —mired in work, in life, in age, in their own business they once nurtured out of the soil of their imagination— and reawaken them to once again feel and act on the pulse of their dreams?

What if I could harness that constant aching sense of wanting to get away, to feel free, to be outside of the city and outside of my current reality, and make it not an escape, but a core of what I do, a joy, and what could I build if -- instead of escaping -- I stayed?

What if this -- entirely obliterating having something to escape from -- eliminated all discontent and stress, and replaced them with unwavering purpose and calm, perhaps also virtually eliminating the distinction and conflict between work and self?

 What if I chronicle this experiment, write the hell out of it, show the process, the hardship, the challenge, but show also how possible the joy, how close the adventure, how ripe the imagination still is, and build community around the idea that life is here now, and freedom is not out there, but within you and your business, only waiting to be grasped.

I don't pretend to have all the answers. In fact, don’t have any answers to these questions right now, but the truth is, not knowing how is a bad reason to not do anything, and a good reason to start learning. As a sentence is created word by word, and a book scene by scene, I will learn this process step by step, and I invite you to join me on this journey.

Footnotes:

"But, what if you stayed?" (The Middle Finger Project)

Bicycles are humble machines, but I believe they have the potential to change peoples’ lives, change the face of our cities, and — if we let them — even change the world.

Unfortunately, and perhaps somewhat ironically for someone who has dedicated her life to peddling and promoting bicycles, the nobility of these humble machines can easily get displaced by more pedestrian concerns. Such as managing customer orders, meeting payrolls, receiving inventory and keeping an eye on the bottom line, which is always in danger of eroding under pressures from the shaky economy, fickle marketplace and internet sales. It can be hard to keep your focus on changing the world when you’re busy counting change.

This is perhaps true for anyone who ever took a job, or started a business out of conviction. Lofty ideals, which once propelled us into a noble line of work, after many years can take a back seat to routine. And the job, once purposeful and liberating , can make us feel bored, stuck and wondering if we’re still capable of being relevant. Sometimes, we dream of getting away from it all, moving to the mountains, living on a farm, selling our possessions to travel the world! But… we’ve invested so much… there’s so much we’d have to change… so much we’d have to give up… Anyway, it’s just a stupid dream.

After thinking about this a lot, I’ve come to ask: why does MASSIVE CHANGE, in our mind’s eye, seem appealing (at least from a distance), when small changes do not? Why does uprooting our lives to travel in an RV van can seem like a sensible solution, when setting our alarm clocks to 5am so we can go for a walk in nature does not? Why can starting with a clean slate seem like a guaranteed answer, while going back over our lives, crossing out and re-writing some small sections of the script, or riffing on a footnote somewhere, seems so daunting?

Cutting loose may be a great option for some, but surely, most of us can recapture rewarding, joy filled lives in which we find expression for our innermost dreams, without leaving our spouses and everything we hold dear, selling our homes, and moving across continents.

What if you or I are still capable of noble flights? Wouldn’t it be a shame to give up and never find out? What if I absolutely committed to something bigger than myself, bigger than my brick-and-mortar business, and let it shape me? An idea, an entity to bring together and inspire one-time dreamers who now, like me, sometimes feel stuck —mired in work, in life, in age, in their own business they once nurtured out of the soil of their imagination— and reawaken them to once again feel and act on the pulse of their dreams?

What if I could harness that constant aching sense of wanting to get away, to feel free, to be outside of the city and outside of my current reality, and make it not an escape, but a core of what I do, a joy, and what could I build if -- instead of escaping -- I stayed?

What if this -- entirely obliterating having something to escape from -- eliminated all discontent and stress, and replaced them with unwavering purpose and calm, perhaps also virtually eliminating the distinction and conflict between work and self?

 What if I chronicle this experiment, write the hell out of it, show the process, the hardship, the challenge, but show also how possible the joy, how close the adventure, how ripe the imagination still is, and build community around the idea that life is here now, and freedom is not out there, but within you and your business, only waiting to be grasped.

I don't pretend to have all the answers. In fact, don’t have any answers to these questions right now, but the truth is, not knowing how is a bad reason to not do anything, and a good reason to start learning. As a sentence is created word by word, and a book scene by scene, I will learn this process step by step, and I invite you to join me on this journey.

Footnotes:

"But, what if you stayed?" (The Middle Finger Project)

Bicycles are humble machines, but I believe they have the potential to change peoples’ lives, change the face of our cities, and — if we let them — even change the world.

A bicycle store is a humble enterprise, but I believe it has the potential to change the way people move around and participate in their community, by recognizing and embracing the idea that —while cycling may not be  the center of anyone's life— it can be one of the many manifestations of a life of autonomy, self-determination and direct interaction with one’s surroundings, which many people seek.

If community grows around common ideas, then a community-based small business can serve as a platform for disseminating and promoting those ideas, both in its physical space and online, where those ideas can gain traction, find resonance, and strengthen the community.

The processes through which the business broadens its platform, especially where they are most successful, should perhaps be documented, in order to serve as a model or blueprint for other independent brick and mortar business owners, so they can grow their business and enrich their community, and so both can thrive.

I believe that —at its best— vibrant, independent, local business is much more than a place where goods and services are exchanged for money, and should be seen instead as the indispensable economic, social and cultural hub of community.

Instead of being locked to our computer screens, transacting business online under the guise of "growing the economy", we can choose to interact with one another, get to know and purchase needed merchandise and services from local merchants, restore our communities and build their economic strength, all the while allowing genuine human interactions to foster increased social and civic engagement, empathy and tolerance.

My own brick and mortar bicycle store can serve as both the crucible and the platform for exploring these ideas, especially since I believe that the bicycle is a vehicle particularly well suited to bringing communities together, and making them livable.

I don't pretend to have all the answers, but the truth is, not knowing how is a bad reason to not do anything, and a good reason to start learning. As a sentence is created word by word, and a book scene by scene, I will learn this process step by step, and I invite you to join me on this journey. Flourishing local businesses are indispensable to building healthy and dynamic communities, and if we forsake them, something vital and irreplaceable with vanish with them.

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