So, we’re eight days into April, and unlike more than a hundred of you keeners, I have not ridden my bike for at least 30 minutes for the last 7 days in a row. This was entirely predictable. Regardless, I am still proudly participating in PORCA’s 30×30 challenge, because it (and the possibility of winning one of the daily prizes) will probably prompt more bike rides from me and my kiddo, than not. And because I am inspired every day seeing all the people taking part, hashtagging their adventures with #porca3030. And that’s, actually, quite unexpected. If you’re out riding right now, there’s a part of me that wants to hate you. I am jealous of the time you have to ride, and more than that, I’m suspicious that you might be clogging up the trails and parking lots and not properly distancing, and particularly that you might not be from here and that you’re spreading mutant virus. It’s a small part of me, but it’s there, and it gets triggered, when I’m feeling anxious and uncertain or have spent any time on a community forum on Facebook. And it makes me look sideways at anyone I don’t know, and even at a lot of people I do know.
And then, I see the gallery of photos that @porcabikes has put together, from the day, of people riding, and soaking up the sunshine and fresh air, and expressing straight up gratitude for being alive, and some of them I recognize and some I miss terribly and some I don’t know, but when I see the smiling faces, I think, oh, you’re my community. (And you’re supporting PORCA, by participating in this, which is awesome.)
I read an amazing book earlier in the spring called Humankind: a Hopeful History. In it, Rutger Bregman teases apart all the “science” that says that, left unchecked, humans will descend into violent self-absorption. That without government and the “civilizing” effect of society, we’re very few steps away from being dangerous, nasty brutes. Study and famous experiment by study, Bregman explores the foundations for this thinking, and shows that a lot of the science was flawed, or inaccurately reported… and that, actually, there’s a lot more evidence to suggest that humans are a profoundly caring, friendly and supportive species – especially when left to our own devices, or in a crisis. (We just have this message that we’re brutes reinforced constantly, and it can be a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.) We are, however, also profoundly tribal… we’re wired to see “others” as a threat, and to take care of our own, and that is something that can easily be exploited… and that is something that we do need culture and protocols, to navigate.
The way I interpreted this, as I scrolled through PORCA’s photos, is that, we need to give “the threat” a face, if we can. As soon as the faceless hordes of disrespectful virus-spreading riders became people, my nervous system simmered down. And I felt friendly again.
It’s also been reported that a sense of community and belonging is one of the best ways to innoculate against disinformation and conspiracy theories.
So, Thank you PORCA, for encouraging us to get outside, breathe in the fresh air, and think like a community. Good medicine.