Social media tells us everything wrong with the world moment to moment. We can’t look away and that’s part of the reason we keep going deeper into an abyss of negative creation. It’s part of the reason why our lives aren’t working anymore. Why we’re all overweight, over-stressed and in distress.
I was eleven. I still remember that hot Saturday in July. Not a cloud in the hard blue sky and my eyes watered. I’d just closed the front gate behind me. In front of me, the road stretched out and turned the corner towards the old Presbyterian church we walked to every blessed Sunday morning. Mom was a stickler for Sunday sermon.
That day though, was the day I rode my first ten speed. I’d saved my allowance for months. I wanted that bike more than I wanted to breathe. I remember the way my heart beat way too fast. The way my arms trembled. How the sun burned through my T-shirt and the asphalt smelled like sulfur. I was going to do this.
I was eleven, about to do what is now unthinkable: ride off alone on an endless road. My parents were somewhere inside doing what parents did back in the 80's. In my own imagination, I was about to grow up. I climbed on new blue Raleigh and took that first tentative push into the unknown.
Where I was going? I hadn’t a clue, mom couldn’t find me even if she wanted to. I know she didn’t think about it much. I was one kid out of her three, happy with a bike, nothing to do and no place to be.
And just like that, the white lines on the road ribboning out beneath my pedaling feet, I was gone for the day. For the next ten years, unless it rained, it would be me and the open road; meeting with friends, racing around empty tracts of land, watching the grass go by, sitting under lonely trees to read and listen to the birds.
In those days, social media was who you hung out with and were able to contact using a land line. It was birthday parties and house parties, family gatherings, going to the beach with…