This I Believe

Erik - Palm Desert, California
Entered on May 10, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: purpose, sports

If you happen to live in my neck of the woods, you might have seen me, but more likely you have not. Even if you have seen me, you probably spent ten or so milliseconds focusing just on me, because you were busy talking on your cellphone as you drove your car speedily down the road.

You see, I ride my bike most everywhere, whether it be my high school, the library, or the grocery store. I ride my green bike out of personal necessity, but not in the way that you would think. I have a driver’s license and a car.

My necessity falls into a category much more important than that of the physical realm. I ride my bike because I like to move my legs, I like the wind rushing up the sleeves of my tee-shirt, I like the scenery I see with an unobstructed 360 degree view, and I like the environment. Does that make me an environmentalist or a radical? I hope not.

I became a silent radical, at a gas station, filled with dirty, belching cars. I was filling up my white import sedan that my parents have loaned to me for my high school years of driving, with little on my mind.

That’s when it happened. I saw a man, a man that was so different and yet identical to me. He was riding his bike past the gas station, seemingly with little on his mind. That was the moment that it clicked, the moment that I remembered the first time I rode down the street on my little blue bicycle, teetering on the training wheels, I remembered the time when my parents drove me through L.A. and I wondered why God made the clouds so ugly, I remembered science class when I learned why the clouds were so brown.

After that experience I made up my mind to, in the words of Henry David Thoreau, no longer pay my poll tax. A few days later, I bought an old bike and started riding. Do I ride my bike everywhere? I wish I did, but I do not have the conviction of Thoreau, nor the driving passion to change the world. In that sense, I am a silent radical.

My values, ambitions, and politics could be described as radical in some aspects. If you ask me what I think is right concerning this or that, and I will give it to you straight, but you will never see my beliefs on my sleeve. I can’t stand people that do.

If you see me riding down the street on my green bike, don’t hang up your cellphone, don’t slow down, don’t spend an extra millisecond focusing on me, because my sleeves are rippling in the wind, blank flags, flags without a cause, they are waving not for you and not for me, but for the wind.