by Shun Lee
A few years ago, I found myself in a place in life in which I couldn’t drive my car for several months. In the vast sprawl that is Los Angeles, getting very far was nothing short of frustrating. So a generous friend bought me a good bicycle. It was a terrific blessing, and one for which I was truly grateful (you who did it, you know who you are) – and for more than one reason. Yes, it got me where I needed to go, and, sure, it got me in pretty good shape, but that bike helped me to do something even more substantial and worthwhile. It got me to slow down.
Suddenly (if I can use that word in the context of ‘slowing down’), I was traveling not at the breakneck speed of the typical Southern California automobile driver, but at the pace of the urban bicyclist. No longer able to use the freeway system, I was forced to find alternate routes, side streets, and hidden neighborhoods that I never would have sought out if I were in a car. And the strange thing I came to realize is that, in spite of my slower pace, I was enjoying myself. I could catch the smell of spices as I passed through various ethnic neighborhoods. I received a smile and a wave from the mother and her little girl playing in their tiny yard. I could hear neighbors chatting with each other over fences. I could see the small mom-and-pop shops and the wares they displayed in their windows. I could read clever graffiti on the sides of buildings (well… some of it was clever).
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