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Pedaling toward greater awareness

While biking the Lakewalk last week I noticed adults pedaling one way, children the other. Without exception the older commuters were headed downtown, the hub of commerce. Kids raced east toward school with abandon and joy. Smiles lit up the faces of child and grownup alike.

The bikers seemed to be propelled forward by a sense of optimism and expectation. The jubilation was magnified by the loveliest of spring mornings. Bright eyes and quickened spirits were aware of all aspects of the environment and surroundings.  Pedestrians, traffic, song birds, trees coming to life, greening grass and sunlight delighted the five senses as we shared the Lakewalk.

There’s a stark contrast between this experience and that of someone sedentarily sitting in a car on their way to a sedentary job, alone and hurrying to another dreaded day of work.

I want my kids to experience this outdoor experience from an early age and hopefully build a lifelong habit of avoiding the automobile whenever possible. Bike when you’re in a hurry. Walk when you’re not. Use of the car on rare occasions may be counted as a blessing, rather than taken for granted on a daily basis. The whole person — mind, body, soul — flourishes with such understanding.

My current “job” seems to be that of developing relationships, as I have been bike-delivering my recently published book throughout the city. This has been immensely satisfying and for reasons I never anticipated. I find myself grateful for every copy delivered and for every reader that devours it. The overall experience impacts my soul while simultaneously touching mind and body.

One day found me biking to City Hall to deliver a thank-you letter to the mayor for a lovely meeting we had. Along the way, I met a stranger who showed me that there are indeed kindred spirits.

Regularly seeing him traverse the Lakewalk with his steady pace, I finally jammed on the brakes for a pleasant visit. I was astonished to discover that he walks to work year-round from Lakeside to Canal Park, even though his demanding job often sees him in the office on weekends. I suspect that the slow commute every day has instilled a regular dose of sanity into a life that otherwise might be consumed by stress.

This is remarkable for such a busy man. He exudes gratitude as he explains that the privilege of walking a few feet from the largest freshwater body on the planet is a spiritual experience he enjoys each day.

Yes! This is what I want for my kids. Not more stuff and more stress to get it faster.

This man is a minimalist. Minimalism is a growing movement that focuses on owning as few things as possible while pursuing the things in life that are most meaningful. My family is currently pursuing this ideal. I am the main cheerleader, obviously under the influence of a previous life wherein I survived obsessive hoarding and squalor. It may take us a lifetime to “arrive,” but realization of what we want our lives to look like provides a meaningful goal.

The point is to not overlook the journey. Truly, there is joy in the journey. Often the quest itself changes us more than the actual destination. Commuting by bike, foot or any other alternative that doesn’t involve an easy ride has the potential to provide a meaningful experience every day. It fosters the sorts of virtues we all wish to instill in our kids and in ourselves. Gratitude. Simplicity. Happiness. Joy. Community. Love. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Beauty.  One may perceive these more vividly by regularly propelling our bodies through the wind, under their own power, while pursuing greater awareness in every area of life.

Monthly Budgeteer columnist Eddy Gilmore is the author of a newly released book, “The Emancipation of a Buried Man.” Discover more at www.eddygilmore.com.

See also: Duluth celebrates Bus Bike Walk Month

Eddy Gilmore

Monthly Budgeteer columnist Eddy Gilmore is a freelance writer, father of twins and husband of one. Connect with Eddy at eddygilmore.com.

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