Since the start of this blog, I have tried not to comment on political events. This is not because I do not care, or do not have opinions. It's because I wanted to establish a separation between Bike and State, so to speak, so that readers of all political leanings could perceive this as a "safe space" to express their shared love of niche bicycle-related minutiae.
I make no exception to this now. And neither do I make assumptions regarding where any given LB reader stands on the British vote to leave the EU, and on the US presidential election.
What I do know is that, in the wake of these two events there has been a major upset. Regardless of what they wanted the outcomes of these events to be, people en masse are upset by the fallout: the divisiveness, the free-flowing abuse, the violence, the general lowering of standards when it comes to civilised, humane discourse, and perhaps more than anything else, by the uncertainty.
Both in the time leading up to these events and in their aftermath, it is clear that a great number of people have been feeling a lack of control over their environments and destinies. I can see it - overtly all over my social media feeds, as well as more subtly, through glimpses and undercurrents in the emails I receive and even in comments left on this blog.
In my close to 8 years of running this space, I don't think I have ever observed such a mood before, so pervasively. And it is this that I feel compelled to comment on.
Feeling a lack of control over one's life is a leading cause of depression and anxiety. It can also be linked to physical ailments. I would urge you therefore, to resist giving into that poisonous sense of helplessness - even if you feel that your situation warrants it.
I am not saying ignore what is happening around you. And this isn't a prequel to "ride your bike and forget everything else."
What I am saying is: It is vital, at times of feeling helpless, to redirect our focus toward things that we do have control over. It is vital for mental survival.
In that sense, we are lucky that we do have the bicycle as a tool. A tool to help ground our focus and regain control. Not in order to forget or ignore the world around us. But in order to attain a clarity and a sense of agency, which might ultimately guide us toward ideas of what next.