A Non-Cycling Day
Neighbour: You out on the bike today?
Me: Oh no, not today.
Neighbour: [looks at me quizzically] Sure you are!
Me: Nah. Working from home today. And doing some spring cleaning.
Neighbour: But... you're on your bicycle right now!
Me: Hm?... [glancing down at my feet, which are rotating the pedals in slow motion as I hover to chat with him.] Oh! No, I just needed to post a letter.
For all of us there are bound to be days off the bike. For me these are days when I work entirely from home, and also take a break from sporty or leisure rides. That is not to say, though, that I don't touch a bicycle at all - I mean let's not get carried away here. At some point I might nip out to the shop down the road, or to check on something at the other end of the field if I'm too lazy to walk. But the distances are negligible. And while I don't keep a milage diary, even if I did I would not bother recording such trips.
In a way I guess that kind of thinking makes sense mathematically, if you think of it as rounding down distances under 1 mile to zero. So if, say, to the post office is 0.8 miles each way, that makes it really zero miles each way. And then of course, zero plus zero is once again zero. Ergo, nipping down to the post office is "not cycling."
But of course, that's a funny kind of logic. And my neighbour's reaction made me suddenly aware of its absurdity. It also made me curious what my "non-cycling" milage might be had I actually tallied it up. After all, that run to the post office was my 4th time out that day!
So, just for kicks, I counted. Let's see...There was the posting of the letter. Before that I'd run out of carpet shampoo. At some point earlier I'd gone to buy eggs form the farmer next door. Then later in the day I took a break to photograph a fallen tree in a nearby field... And after that...
When I counted each fragmentary spin without negating it, all in all, the distance added up to 8.4 miles. Sure, that's not a lot in the course of a day. And the individual trips were so low-key as to be nearly effortless. Still, not bad for a day off the bike!
Mulling over these "non-cycling" rides, my eye fell on some left-over scraps of cloth from a sewing project and I could not help but observe a similarity. A pile of fabric scraps is not the same as one intact piece of cloth of equal measure. The scrap heap hasn't the same structure, or function, or, one might even say, usefulness. Nevertheless each scrap is a solid and real thing, no matter how tiny. And though when gathered the scraps lack the properties of the intact cloth, they form a character of their own - accumulating an undeniable heft and forming a colourful, unique mosaic. The scraps are not zero. They exist, each interesting in its own right, each a remnant of that day's experience.