Let’s work with this assumption: that kids are, generally speaking, happy. Well, happier than adults.
Obviously there are instances where this isn’t the case, and there are a good number of adults who are, indeed, happy.
But, I would be pretty happy making the statement that kids, before hormones and competing desires and increasingly complex social arrangements start kicking in, are by default pretty happy. You could argue that it’s mainly due to ignorance, but that doesn’t matter. Rather than ignorance, you could just as easily argue that they simply haven’t been pulled down to the level of adults, all cynical and conniving and manipulative, and see the world around them for the wondrous, amazing, and innocent place that it can be. Here are some other reasons.
As part of this perspective, though, I think that part of what might inform their tiny world-view is that they don’t see the world as a collection of obstacles. Obstacles that will weight them down, tire them out, and eventually crush them.
They see everything as something to be engaged. Explored. Tested. Enjoyed.
Lucky little pricks.
I kid, of course, but because most of my conscious thought has a little guy on a bike riding through it, this thought connected with another thought.
Bikes are not only the best way to time travel back to that time in life, but they are also the best vehicle for regaining that perspective.
Not only do bikes allow us to play like children with toys that are so fundamentally pure and freeing, but they can provide the perfect context for actually making us better people. People who can conquer obstacles.
They can teach us to be self-sufficient as we travel to our various destinations throughout the day. They teach us the value of relying on our own strength.
Walking is great and healthy and teaches you self-reliance, but it’s easy. Cycling is not only faster, but is more physically and mentally demanding, (and therefore rewarding). Driving is fast and convenient (unless you live in what is increasingly becoming most large cities), but it’s lazy. Cycling is often as fast or faster and provides all the physical and mental restoration you require.
If you go beyond the commute, cycling long-distances or in demanding terrain is a concentrated dose of the restorative nature of childhood. It combines physical and mental challenge with fresh air, sunlight, nature, camaraderie, and fun.
Think about that. Going for a good, hard ride makes the process of setting up an obstacle for yourself and trying to smash it over – whether you succeed or not – enjoyable. Ideally you can transfer this penchant for crushing obstacles to other parts of your life.
A couple of days ago a two of us went out and rode 100km on some of the most beautiful but challenging gravel roads around. I’m still sore and fatigued, but I’m also still buzzing from it.
Like kids, we were just riding bikes together. That’s it. Sure, we could talk about life, about problems, but it was all wrapped up in the cozy embrace of just riding bikes. I want to see where that road goes! I want to see if I can get to the top of that without stopping! Look at that view! See what I’ve done!
We play, we test, we conquer, we achieve. And, like kids (ideally), we can do this in an environment where failure doesn’t (shouldn’t) matter. Failure on the job can cost you. Failure on the bike just means… well, you were still out riding your bike, so I don’t see how that’s failing, exactly.
So, yet another reason why bikes are the best. Transporting you back to your happy, curious, creative, problem-solving, childlike self, one pedal stroke at a time.
Header image: source