Here’s what we have in common
There are certain things we have in common with one another. Probably some of the biggest and least thought of are our senses. The sense of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. If you’re able to drive an automobile or ride a bicycle unassisted, you probably have your sight and at least some of your hearing. To me, it is amazing how often we take these five senses for granted. We are too focused on what separates us to remember the basic things that link us together.
I bet if you close your eyes and imagined bacon frying in a skillet you’d probably be able to recall the smell and taste of fresh cooked bacon. Perhaps, the smell of fresh cleaned sheets tumbling in the dryer releasing their scented smells of fabric softener through the wall vent out into the neighborhood? Or what about wood burning in the fireplace on a cold autumn day? If you look above the tree line, you can see two or three chimneys billowing their smoke and smells into the air. And don’t even get me started about the smell OF ANYTHING cooking over fire on the outside grill. I swear that scent can travel for miles.
How many of you have had these experiences?
What about this? Can you remember what it felt like the first time you drove a car? Feeling the small pot holes in the road through the brake pedal or from the bottom of your seat? Bump.Bump Bump.
How about a parent reaching across the front seat with their right arm extended and locked – slamming you into the back of your seat? As if their arm would prevent you from being ejected during a car crash. You never said anything, because deep down it made you feel safe and protected. And mom or dad felt like they were doing just a bit more of their job too. Keeping you safe.
Now you’re telling tales out of school if you’ve never felt that arm sling you back into the seat.
It becomes a bit more tricky with hearing and sight. We may hear things differently because of the quality of our hearing. What I hear may sound different or a lot clearer to someone who has hearing challenges. Same goes for eyesight, partial sight and color blindness. One early morning when it was still pitch black outside, I heard the whooshing of wings above me and I immediately craned my head back to see and hear an owl with a four foot swing span fly in front of me and then vanished into the dark.
Probably the coolest part about these senses, is we roughly smell, taste, feel, see and hear the same things. If bacon were cooking (can you tell I like bacon), we’d both smell the exact same thing. You wouldn’t smell daffodils as I inhaled sizzling swine. If meat or eggs were rotten, we damn sure know that something was foul. Right?
Here’s the point
Which brings me to the point of why I am writing this. Just about everything I mentioned has happened to me on a bicycle. True story. And just about everything listed above all of us have in common.
There’s nothing like riding a bicycle and within a few miles smelling road kill, freshly cleaned sheets and someone cooking up breakfast for the family. The cool part – it’s not that unusual for it to happen. Where and what time you ride can determine what you feel, hear or see but it’s all out there on the roads. Even the owl. It flew directly above me as I rode up Highway 51 toward Alexander Road. Many of these things you don’t get to experience from the confines of your car. I am not advocating for everyone to ride a bicycle. Some folks just aren’t into it. I get it and it’s okay.
But before I wrap this up, I forgot to mention two very important things. First, your mom and dad’s arm pushing you back against the passenger seat. The intention behind that act is no different than a cyclist riding near the center of the lane. That’s the cyclist way of protecting themselves. That’s the safe arm coming to help. Depending on the cyclist, they may move over to right to release traffic when they feel it’s safe to do so.
Now, like your parents and that extended arm, we know riding near the middle of the lane won’t prevent a car from running us over if that’s their intent. But what it does do, is give the person riding the bicycle a sense of safety and control. That’s one of reasons they (we) do that. So the person in the car doesn’t pass us inside the same lane we’re traveling.
Think of it this way. The average lane size is 10 feet. The average width of a car is 5.6 feet. That leaves 2.2 feet on either side of your car – assuming you’re in the middle of the lane. Here’s the crazy part. The average width of a bicycle? Anywhere from 18 to 24 inches wide. Now do you see why most cyclist control the lane? If they rode to your right that is a recipe for disaster. Both for you and the cyclist.
It might make you the driver frustrated or angry. But please know that’s not our intention. Like you, we’re just trying to get to where we’re going in one piece.
Which brings me to my final point. You remember the small pot holes I mentioned earlier? Well, to a cyclist they aren’t so small and we cannot ride through them without some sort of accident occurring. Yep. It can get ugly.
Just imagine you’re in a car approaching a cyclist and you try to squeeze by her in the same lane of traffic because she’s riding close to the shoulder of the road. But unbeknownst to you, there’s a frisbee sized pot hole in front of the cyclist. Now the cyclist has no good options. She can’t swerve left to miss it because you’re there. If she goes right, she’s slamming into a high curb or God knows what else. Something that you would barely feel in the car, could seriously injure someone on a bicycle and send them to the ER.
Here’s the takeaway
From personal experience, I can tell you there’s one sense that overrides everything. That’s love. Not the Hare Krishna kind either. The everyday love we have for our family.
Just because you’re behind the wheel of a car and another person is behind the handlebars of a bicycle doesn’t change the simple fact that we all want to see our loved ones again. That desire to get home in one piece is paramount.
So, next time you’re on the road, remember what we have in common. Our humanity.
That woman or man on the bicycle has a family just like you.
And the may even be your neighbor.