On a sunny afternoon this weekend my lovely bride, the Lady Oil, took her first spin in the captain's chair! Yes, she Cargo Biked it! And it was great!
The other day I told you about our first Critical Mass ride as a family. That was pretty splendid. My heart swelled with love, sharing that ride with her again after so long. This was made more meaningful because in the last few months Critical Mass has become a tradition that Little Oil and I share, apart from Mama. This got me thinking...
It is natural and a-okay for partners to have varying interests. Sometimes kids share in that and thus bond with a parent around their shared interests and sometimes they don't. I think it is harder for some passionate and committed cyclists when their partner does not share their interests than it is for, say, football fans.
Is this because making bicycling a part of your life means so much more than just being interested in bikes? It means using bikes to get around, a choice that is more personal and more practically related to schedule, economics, lifestyle than any mere pastime?
The Oils are like a lot of families, made up of a complex mix of identities and cultural backgrounds. I think of us as an interfaith family. We mix more than just our Jewish and Italian traditions, but our Car Free and Car Not-Free ones as well.
As I've told you before, I have a lifelong aversion to cars and I've never really driven one. I am committed to living as free from auto-dependency and with as small a carbon footprint as I can manage. This has gone pretty well for me, mostly because I am lucky enough to really like riding bikes.
Madame Oil is different from me. She sees the damage that cars have done and are doing, but chooses to focus her energies on saving the world in different ways. She drives to work most days and rides her bike on weekends, mostly. She likes bikes, but is not as obsessed as some of us.
For me, not driving is an ethical consumption choice. I believe that driving a car when you have any other reasonable option is wrong.I believe that driving hurts yourself and others. I see it as the responsibility of people who believe as I do to choose not to drive whenever possible and to work for a world where more people can make that same choice.
I can respect people who drive, just like I can respect people who eat meat. I know that consumption choices are complex, personal and emotionally weighty. It has taken me a while to get to this point, but on a person-to-person basis, I'd rather be an encouraging example than a judgmental prick. I'm not perfect, but I try to leave the sanctimony and the outrage for confronting the systems that I believe are holding us back from a more sustainable, just and peaceful world.
I do not wish to speak for the Lady, so I'll just say that she drives less than most folks do. She respects my convictions and goes by bike with me and Little Oil whenever she can make it work for her. We used to have all sorts of friction over how we were gonna get places, but the negotiations are much more peaceful now because we respect each other and have learned how to comprimise.
This is all a long way of explaining that, in case you were wondering, I am cool with Mama Oil not biking as much as Little Oil and I. Also, I cherish the times that we do spend on bikes together very very much.
Love you, Lady Oil!