When I was a young, my father taught me a basic bicycle maintenance. Just a basic things like checking the air in the tires, putting the chain back back on the gears when it fell off, and patching the tires if they got broken. His hands were strong and steady and I felt there was nothing he couldn’t fix.
You could say that in our world today, knowledge like that doesn’t make much difference. All you need to do is take the bicycle to the shop and they’ll repair and maintain it, often for free. But I want to teach my son one day how to do those things, just the same.
I love riding a bicycle. Bicycles are simple, agile and quiet. They don’t make noise or pollution and they never block the traffic. On weekdays I take my son to the kindergarten by my pink electric assist bicycle, “a mother chariot” (mama-chari) as they are known in Japan. It’s super comfortable to drive. “Japanese women really are smart”, I thought when I tried it first time.
I love the feeling of fresh air on my cheek in morning when we ride together with my son. I say good morning to the handsome man checking the traffic near a construction site on the way, and sometimes I chat with some of the mothers in the kindergarten. Sometimes we talk about bicycles, sometimes about weather or other topics. These moments are treasures of my life.
I think about death a lot. I used to think about it when I was in my twenties but now even more. I might get hit by a truck when I’m crossing a road. Or maybe I fall on stairs and my skull cracks open. There is no way of knowing when, but one day for sure will be the last day. We must have courage to look at the beauty in our lives.. No, we must celebrate it!
Like many others such as me, I have spent my days in a fog, locking myself into my small space. I was stupid and selfish and hurt my friends who just wanted to help me. I said I was depressed, but actually I was just a shit head, as the crow outside my window said. Yet people forgave me. Ignoring my selfish words, they offered me their hand again. Thinking about my friends is like feeling the sunshine on my cheek.
There are many kinds of roads to choose, expressways, landscape routes and even small paths in the forest you can only walk. If this was your last day, which one would you choose?
There is a song by Blonde Redhead which has the line “But we’ll have fine time not getting there”. Perhaps arriving there doesn’t matter as much as how we spend the time getting there. The biggest present we can give to someone is time.
One day I will drive my bicycle in Kamakura and stare at the sea. It will be a perfect day, and I will say thanks for the crow. The sea will be gentle a there will be neither regret or fear. Perhaps my son will be driving his bicycle elsewhere, gaining mileage in his own odometer, looking at the same scenery.
You only live once.