Clifford over at his blog Asymptotia has a great post up about the cycling he does and enjoys in Los Angeles and wonders what the best answer might be to strangers who see him on his bike and assume incorrectly that its all about the price of gas, while at Franklin Avenue Mike blogs some love for Silver Lake’s L.A. Mill Coffee Boutique and its upcoming Free Coffee Day (June 24) to celebrate its six-month anniversary. Mike also provides details on a charity event to be hosted at L.A. Mill that day called Bikes To Rwanda whose aim is to provide bicycles to cooperative coffee farmers in that country.
Reading about that reminded me of one of the photos I took from our African honeymoon in 2005 of Rwandans on the road from Ruhengeri, two of many who were pushing bikes bearing large and heavy containers of freshwater they’d filled at lakes some distance away, and so I posted the link to its page on my Flickr photostream in my comment to Mike’s post suggesting that not just bikes are needed, but bike trailers, too. Here’s the image:
Can you imagine having to do such an epic chore? Perhaps once a week or once every couple days? Hell, I’ve been bitching to myself this week because of the extra weight of the couple additional cans of Diet Pepsi I’ve brought in my backpack from home with me on my morning commutes (because the office vending machine owner just raised the price of their beverages 15 cents to $1.40). What if it was a couple hundred pounds of water I was obligated to get to Point B and mostly uphill?
The answer is I’d do what I have to do and so let’s go back to Clifford’s post. One of the comments a reader submitted somewhat sheepishly is something I regularly hear and boils down to the impracticality of a bike. I myself don’t disagree as evidenced by the truck I own and that I most recently used to go to Granada Hills and back at the end of May for graduation events at my daughter Katie’s high school, and to Costco a week later. We drove to my mom’s last night for a belated birthday/anniversary dinner in Burbank.
But the combination of Clifford’s post yielding that comment and Mike’s post making me recall that photo of those burdened Rwandan men got me thinking — and none of it profound. It just made me realize that no matter how ultimately successful and determined we humans are as a species, we are cursed with the ability to find a rationale for not doing something.
Can those Rwandans afford the luxury of options. Of course not. They and their families need water to survive and that’s the most efficient means available to them to get it.
So conversely to all the excuses we can raise in defense of the status quo, humans are nevertheless remarkably adaptable and capable. We can do what we have to do whether we have no choice or make the choice. And just as readily as we can avoid doing anything we don’t want to do — until we have no choice but to.