You may be wondering why I have a picture of a Eugene, Oregon EMX bus in a post about taking a deep breath? “Is Bill going to talk about air pollution, greenhouse gases, or our car-dependence?” Actually, none of the above.
I’ve talked before about how so many things are interconnected. Today I want to talk about how we over-schedule our lives and simply try and squeeze too much stuff into a day. Not the stuff like consumer stuff: shirts, tvs, cars. Stuff like: I need to deposit that check on my way to my whatever appointment and do that before my whatever appointment because I’m coming from another appointment across town. But in doing so, I don’t REALLY have enough time (and frankly, it could wait until afterwards anyway), so it makes me five minutes late.
Now most of us probably wouldn’t typically think five minutes late is a big deal. And, while I personally think it is (it’s disrespectful, for starters), there’s a bigger picture here I want to talk about. And that is our busy-ness in our lives. Which brings me back to the bus.
I was privileged to attend the Oregon Planning Institute’s 2010 conference this week in Eugene at the University of Oregon. I didn’t want to drive my car (parking sucks at the UO, plus it’s $8 a day if you can find a spot), I’m still more of a fair weather bicyclist (that’s changing), so I rode the bus ($3 for an all-day pass, about the same as the gallon of gas I’d burn going to and from).
About a year ago, I “discovered” the bus during the Business Commute Challenge. I realized it broke down ALL my misconceptions (no one rides the bus except hooligans, it’s inconvenient, takes along time, etc). Our local bus system (Lane Transit District) actually works quite well, a lot of “normal” people ride (and both buses yesterday were almost full), and it’s quite convenient from a time perspective.
And that’s my point: perspective. When I ride to work (and I do at times), it takes me about 30 minutes. If I drive, depending on traffic, it takes me 15 to 20 minutes. And here’s where we all need to take a deep breath. I can say “the bus doesn’t work for me because it takes TWICE as long as driving.” OR, I can say “the bus only take about an extra 10 to 15 minutes; and I can read a book. Or meet someone.” I choose the latter.
And I choose that largely because of the realization I had riding to the planning conference. First session started at 8 am. The way my schedule and transfer worked, I could arrive at about 7:30 or about 7:50. If I arrived at 7:50, I could get off the bus, walk briskly to my session, sit down and probably be ready to go by 8:00. BUT I chose to arrive at 7:30, walk calmly to my session (observing a dog barking at a squirrel he had treed), get a cup of coffee, and make a new friend with another person who had arrived early, too.
This is also something that is WAY bigger than just riding the bus and reducing my carbon footprint. I think so much of our current culture wars and political wrangling come from us simply not building enough “margin” into our lives. I have a LOT of thoughts on that and it’s those areas of margin I want to talk about in my next post.