Monday, May 12, 2008

Biking to work to beat the blues

I don't need to tell you that there seems to be a surplus of very bad news lately. Just today, I woke up to the newscasters on WPR telling me about a crashed Med Flight helicopter, a devastating earthquake in China, and only just some of the first aid flights allowed into Myanmar/Burma after the terrible cyclone hit there last week. This in addition to the usual but almost always unpleasant news out of Iraq, and deepening civil unrest in Lebanon.

I believe very strongly in keeping up with what's going on in the world, and always trying to find a way to help, even in small ways. But there are times when it can all be a little too hard on the ol' mental health, and a person, if they're so lucky as to be able to, needs to take some time to think happy thoughts and do something good for themselves.

It's Bike to Work Week, and I'm using this occasion to get back in the saddle and ride the 13 miles one-way to my job at least twice this week. Though it involves getting my lazy ass out of bed a bit earlier than normal, the task is otherwise really good for my psyche (and, of course, my body). By the time I get to work, I feel energized, awake and positive about the day ahead. I can't recommend it enough. And this week is the best possible time of the year to get into it, as various organizations all over town have put together a series of events to support bike commuters.

You can check out the full schedule of events here.

Plus, there's never been a better time to save on gas money. It's been nothing short of astounding to watch the prices climb ever higher on a day-to-day basis. Frankly, as much as I support people cutting down on how much they drive, improving fuel efficiency, and finding more sustainable sources of that fuel, I also recognize that for it to be a smooth transition, it needs to happen gradually. With prices skyrocketing like they are, it severely endangers the trucking industry that brings so many people their basic necessities (food, for instance), and we really need to find a way to stanch the bleeding there.

In addition to the many economical, political and rational reasons to bike or take mass transit to work, there's also the good-mental-health factor. Madison is full of bike paths and lanes (though it could certainly use more). Instead of zooming down the Beltline, I got to gaze out over the lake, smile at fellow travelers, smell the fresh morning air, hear lawn mowers buzzing and dogs barking, and see people going about their days. And for that hour-and-a-half of riding, I could temporarily clear my head of all the shit going on in the world. Sometimes, that's exactly what you need to do in order to deal with it all more effectively in the future, when you get off your bike and face the world again.

3 comments:

capper said...

Emily, I would humbly submit that a better way to beat the blues would be not to have to go to work.

Emily said...

capper, I would most humbly agree with you.

Mauricio Babilonia said...

Woot! Good for you, Emily!

The Lost Albatross