The sitter was here. It's 78 degrees out. Not a cloud in the sky. And I need to go to the bank. I could easily walk but I have about a million things to do before she leaves and a walk would take 30 minutes or so. My hulking minivan lounges in the driveway. It used to beckon me on such occasions with windows down, wind blowing, James Blunt crooning. Today, though, the birds are in the trees. The season's first butterflies flit from yard to yard. There is just the slightest breeze. You can't enjoy all that from inside a car.
I pull my spanky red bike out from the garage, don my husband's helmet and climb on. I wobble down the sidewalk and venture out on to street. Pumping over the hill, I float down the other side - passing parked cars, school children, the empty park and teeter into the bank's parking lot. Once I'm done with the ATM, I climb back on the bike seat and lumber toward the street. In a minute or two, my pedaling smooths out, the weaving stops and I'm headed home feeling, er, less uncomfortable than the last time I rode my bicycle.
This ride is much like my path to a lighter life. The first time, okay, the first several months that I line-dried my clothes, I hated it. It took too long, the clothes weren't as smooth as I was used to. Expectations change, though. We get used to something different. And different is not bad. Now, hanging my clothes is my yoga, meditation and communion with nature, all rolled into one. I don't notice that the towels may be scratchier or the jeans stiffer.
Switching from paper napkins or towels to cloth also seemed a hassle in the beginning. I couldn't chuck my soiled towel in the trash but had to walk all the way, okay ten steps, to the hamper. The washer filled up a tad sooner as well. In a month or two, though, the softness of a cloth napkin on my face or the absorbency of a dish towel to clean up spilled apple juice far outweighed the rough convenience of paper.
The first time I made yogurt, it took forever and came out part brownish water, part brittle whey. The second time took even longer and ended up overly lumpy. I couldn't convince my youngest to eat it and, food wasting aside, I couldn't stomach the stuff. Now, I throw yogurt together in a matter of minutes and it comes out perfect - or at least edible - every time.
Carrying a canvas bag is not going to save the world. Neither will using CFL light bulbs. It's not that we shouldn't do those things. Absolutely, we should. But it is not enough to think that one or two changes alone will halt global warming in its tracks, refreeze the Artic ice, or gift us with a simple life. This is a journey. There are many steps. As soon as I become comfortable, I look for the next step, the next change. I keep moving just outside of my ever-expanding comfort zone in search of a richer, more meaningful life.
Someone recently asked me if, after a year of living like this, doesn't it become too hard, too much? Don't I want to go back to my old life already?
As I wheeled my bike into the garage this afternoon, I thought about her question and my answer. No. I'm just getting comfortable.