Wednesday, June 2, 2010


"Human nature will not flourish, anymore than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations in the same worn out soil. My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes may be within my control, shall strike their roots into unaccustomed earth."

This is a quote from "The Custom House" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. On reading it today I was struck by its truth and then instantly by its easy application to so many things. If you think of the "unaccustomed earth" as our daily thinking, the possibilities start to roll out ahead of you like a red carpet of opportunity.

photo by gregraisman

For many people out there, from suburban moms to major metropolitan urban planners to beer truck drivers to politicians, choosing to ride a bicycle is the "unaccustomed earth"- not so much an actual danger to body as it is a danger to the status quo of their everyday thinking, the "worn out soil" of their minds.

let's also stop by the park.
go see the story by Mark Stosberg that goes with this picture

We like to think that the only people who need some new dirt are those who do not ride, but it equally applies to those of us who ride everyday. How do we think of ourselves and what we do? Could we think about it differently? Can we apply the ability to challenge ourselves about how we transport ourselves and apply that to other parts of our lives?

Can we see how we eat differently?

Can we see our homes differently?

Can we see our jobs differently?

For now, maybe our bicycles can be our personal Ellis Island. A ride to work can be the beginning of finding a new land for our thoughts to take root in. In these times we need to grow as much as we can and reach farther than ever before with the creativity and determination that being an immigrant, even when the "unaccustomed earth" is in our minds, requires us to be.

1 comment:

  1. Love that picture with the flower on the road - beautiful.

    Great sentiment also, I like the phrase 'the unaccustomed earth'. In order to choose and pursue a possible world to create, we need to be able to strike out into that earth, both in our imaginations, and in our actions. See possessions as shared, see people as trustable, see alternatives as possibilities.

    Even changing the way you interact with your environment, your daily commute, the people you meet, can be part of this. Seeing things as not fixed but potential. Difficult to keep up that frame of mind sometimes, perhaps. Good luck!