Day 3 -- The joys of carlessness. Yes, you'd figure this post to be a short one. Not that carful and joyful go together, but absence of something useful is seldom fun. I mean, there are lots of unhappy people out there who have the use of both their legs, but the odds are that the guy in the wheelchair is not cheering because he can't walk. Still and all, a couple of carfree moments come to mind. For instance, when I lost the car I was in the middle of farmland, and had to call a friend to pick me up. And I didn't want to stand around being snickered at by the police, so I decided to walk up the highway in the direction my friend would be coming. And after a mile or so I actually began to enjoy the walk. A sunny afternoon in early spring, moving briskly through the rolling hills of Northumberland -- not bad. (Of course I was used to moving briskly -- that was the whole problem. Maybe I should practice walking slower.) Took me back to my youth when I hiked through Europe. The sun lay warm on my back, and the rich smell of mud and water and cow rose pleasantly in my nostrils. As long as I concentrated on the moment, rather than the large picture, I was happy.
That's they key. Being carless, carfree if you like, gives me a chance to appreciate the now. Cars make time disappear. Toronto in an hour. Ottawa in three. Montreal in four. New York or Chicago in a day. You are always on your way somewhere. When you have to walk, or bike, or wait for a cab or train, you have a chance to be where you are, instead of where you are going.
And you can hear compliments. No one has ever said anything nice about my body while I was in the car (hmm, what does that say about my high-school dating career) but as I was riding away from the YMCA front door last night, proud and sweaty of my workout self, I heard a voice say, distinctly, Nice butt. I whirled round, but the door was closing on whomever had made the comment. I rode away with an absurd little smile on my face.