Day 107: MLwC, comment from B2, and the loneliness of the long distance business traveler

Supa dupa comment from B2 yesterday, if you get a chance. A snippet:

“The 2 years I didn’t own a car in the mid-90s (before I got married and had a kid), I was biking everywhere….

One interesting thing that happened was that … Non-bicyclists would often strike up a conversation with me, and almost invariably I would hear two things from most of them: 1. “How far do you go in a day?” and 2. “Oh… I could never do that.”

And… I got to thinking about why people kept bringing up these 2 particular points, and here’s what I thought: their focus on physical distance is very rooted in consumer culture; the journey itself often had very little value in itself, and they were more focused on getting to a place rather than on the process of getting there, which is actually the most enjoyable part of any trip for me — probably because they were going too fast and thus were feeling too stressed to really enjoy the process of getting there. The very act of slowing down to 10-15 miles per hour on your bike REALLY makes you see the landscape differently and to realize how much of it you miss when you whiz through in a motor vehicle at 60mph.”

I think you have something there. There’s just something about being in touch with the actual trip itself that keeps you present in a way driving just skips altogether.

And speaking of trips…I am on a project in Chicago for the better part of this week. Kind of blows my stats, don’t you think? But I have long thought that I wanted to balance out my business travel, not just in carbon usage, but also in the grand disconnect when you are a body traveling through space and character-free airports, staying at business focused hotels. So, I do–by living a very different lifestyle at home.

Lots of biz people like myself will always have to travel some–there are a lot of things you just can’t do remotely. It’s just not possible, for example, to do effective team trainings, motivation, work process observations… stuff like that which is pretty hands-on. How do you think biz travel will evolve as the availability of fossil fuels become more scarce?

Of course, biz travel is more necessary now that we have massive companies with centers and sites all over the place…Makes me appreciate even more the local hardware store and the West Seattle farmer’s market. Makes me swoon with appreciation, in fact.

Okay, Daily stats: (Monday)
Car: 0 (or about 25 if you count the carpool)
Bike: 0
Bus: 0
Air: about 1400 or so.

3 responses to “Day 107: MLwC, comment from B2, and the loneliness of the long distance business traveler

  1. I had the same thoughts as B2 yesterday while reading your post: “It’s the journey, not the destination.” We forget this all the time. And consumer culture demands that we keep forgetting it or else we’ll stop addictively buying stuff to “meet” market driven needs. Ironically, the desire to consume can be counterbalanced by a simple awareness of the moment. And that awareness is exactly what I mean by the journey. Finding meaning in the (albeit slower) motion rather then feeling compelled or driven by arriving at the destination makes all the difference.

    I read an artist’s analysis of driving the other day. Basically she summed up the psychological transformation that occurred when she drove as “wanting to always be in front and seeing all other cars (people) as obstacles.” I totally agree. For a few days recently, immediately after buying an (ahem) new (to me) car, I enjoyed driving for the sake of the machine itself. I felt in harmony with my car and a bit in flow with the other cars and drivers out there. That last two days — til my “check engine” light came on. Now I find the same ol’ competitive, aggressive instincts coming out when I drive. The only competitiveness in bus riding is toward a seat if the bus is crowded and even that is mitigated by the closeness of human to human contact, unprotected by a wall of metal. Competitiveness in walking? Well it doesn’t take more then a moment to walk around a slower pedestrian. No one seems to mind. I’ve yet to see an example of “sidewalk rage.”

  2. Substrata — I would add bikes to the list of things that drivers see as obstacles, even though legally bike riders have the same rights and responsibilities as any other vehicle on the road — including the right to take up the whole lane.

    While biking, I have had stuff yelled at me and thrown at me and even one jerk try to “play chicken” with me to try and run me off the road (I had to call 911 on my cell phone and report his license number for reckless driving.)

    I mean, there are some seriously angry people behind the wheel out there, and I’m not sure if it’s the driving that causes it or if they were that way to begin with, or if it is some sort of weird symbiotic relationship.

    It is particularly fresh in my mind today because I nearly got hit while biking home from work yesterday when some jackass driver on Alaskan Way on Seattle’s waterfront couldn’t slow down and wait behind me for 5 extra seconds so that he could give me a wide berth while passing. He literally came inches from knocking me off the road. I guess that’s the reality of cycling in the city, though, and there’s not much an individual can do about it.

  3. Pingback: Day 108: MLwC and oh yeah! I remember! « What it’s like

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