Lately I have been thinking about childhood. If your childhood was anything like mine, you grew up in a neighborhood filled with (what was then thought of as) middle class homes, maybe even middle-lower class, either way, it was a multi-ethnic neighborhood filled with people of all ages and varying religions.
Each weekday morning, children lumbered and meandered towards school while parents drove off in their automobiles to their respective careers. Some of us had an idea about what our parents truly did day in and day out in order to keep the lights on and the kids fed, but mostly parents existed on a different plane than the children of the neighborhood.
The parents came and left our world with regular frequency.
The Kids, if you will, had an extensive network of news and happenings all throughout the neighborhood in which parents were all but oblivious.
An adult’s world consisted of their household, their jobs, their commute to their jobs, grocery stores and figuring out “what’s for dinner?” and maybe what’s on TV every night. Grown ups were seldom interested in the goings on within the kid world.
The Kids know who just moved in or who just moved out, where the scary dogs live, who just had kittens, who got beat up on their way home from school, were they crying or not, where the big piles of leaves are or where to find the trees with ripe fruit.
Do you remember such a time?
Who do you feel more like today, the child or the adult?
I was thinking about these memories most recently because it occurred to me that I am The Kid, once again.
For a minute I had become the adult, but ever since getting rid of both of our vehicles and opting to walk most destinations (which are all mostly within 1.5 miles from our home), I have returned to the wonder-filled Kid World.
It appears to have been the automobile altering our universe all along.
Now that we live in an area that we can walk to our destinations, we are able to observe our surroundings and take in the small things that all the grown ups are missing. We have countless friends up and down every street in our urban neighborhood who wave a friendly hello or stop to chat as we pass by. Some of these people are shopkeepers, some of them are what you might quickly generalize as "homeless", (we prefer the term "outdoorsman"), while still others are complete strangers who see us everyday and are compelled to pull over their vehicle just to tell us how lovely we are. Believe it or not, that has happened on more than one occasion.
This feeling of belonging within my community takes me back to my childhood when life was far less rushed and directed more to enjoying the moment right now for what it is.
I have so many friends who seem to have forgotten the simple pleasure of walking. People who got a driver’s license as a teenager and just never looked back. I remember the humiliation of being a walking teenager while the cool kids would speed by in their own cars laughing all the way.
Back then, the automobile was a serious right-of-passage one had to reach before even being considered to be a whole person.
I understand the desperate need for youth to be “taken seriously”, at least in their own eyes, and the necessity of feeling like a real grown up. I get that. I was that person.
At some point, it all just became so exhausting; the insurance, the gasoline, the maintenance.
How much am I laboring simply to maintain this vehicular status symbol?
Compound this idea with the fact that every dollar I am spending on maintaining this vehicle is going directly to industries and companies that I abhor, whether they be insurance companies, oil companies or douchie mechanics.
We have it in our collective conscious somehow that these atrocious industries are “necessary evils” in our society.
I, myself, am quite sick and tired of necessary evils.
Although your results may vary, since shedding our automobiles, so many advertisements have been rendered useless. The ads keep coming and you really don’t realize how much of our world is auto-based until you are out of your auto.
In the mail, you have smog check coupons, ads for tires, used car sales events, etc.,
On television, there is a nonstop onslaught of insurance companies competing to save you a dollar on this presumably mandatory obligation, auto dealers liquidating their inventory, innumerable ads from manufacturers themselves along with safer tires, brakes, and the like.
Then, of course, are your gas stations conveniently located around every corner along with mechanic shops- these things don’t fix themselves.
Inside the markets are scented trees for your automobile and never-ending lines of products that have been altered for auto comfort; your bluetooth, your specially designed cup holder cup, sun visor attachments designed for easy access while driving.
And let’s not forget dude….. Food designed to be eaten while driving.
So many inventions that are completely useless to me, due to my decision to say No.
No, I do not need to earn an extra $600-1000 per month that I can contribute to reprehensible industries that are poisoning our planet as well as ourselves.
So you won’t think that I’m a loser?
For the convenience of driving to Del Taco on a whim?
I can see that it is the whimsical behavior that most people seem to be addicted to.
When I want something, I really need it and I need it right now, no questions asked.
This is very childish behavior. You might NEED to get to a hospital now and again, but I seriously doubt that you NEED a cheeseburger.
You might be asking yourself some basic questions like:
How do you get groceries?
How do you get to work?
Pick up your kids? Etc.,
First off, I don’t have any children and do not plan on having them, so yes, right there you could probably shut down and assume that your kids need your car. Fine. I’m not arguing with anyone over here. This is just my tale.
My partner and I walk to work (less than half a mile) each way. In the event that we have heavy objects to transport or inclement weather, we take the bus. Two people, one way equals $4.
Groceries? Of course, the G D groceries!? Vehicle or no vehicle, I highly recommend ordering your groceries online. I use VONS, but I am sure there are others. I can sit with my list of items that I need and fill my cart online, select a delivery window, pay online and just sit back and wait for the grocery man to wheel all of my goods up to my door. In many cases, the store offers free delivery but even if I had to pay $6.99 for delivery, it would still be completely worth it. Note: their drivers are not allowed to accept tips.
While there is little to zero chance of our society moving toward independence from automobiles at least in the foreseeable future, there is still a lot of room for individuals to free themselves from the clutches of this vehicular octopus,
We did not always have such a simple life. We took deliberate steps to create this lifestyle for ourselves.
If you have a desired way-of-life that you are not currently fulfilling, I would suggest taking personal inventory on what aspects of your life take priority.
Next, stop accepting “necessary evils” in your life.
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