Most of the questions I get or concerns I hear about not having a car are about being tired and sweaty or how to buy groceries or do photography. Really, though, the challenge of living without a car isn’t about figuring those things out. It’s about having the drive to do so. There are so many reasons for us to find alternatives in daily life, but I’d like to focus on my own biggest reason: my health.
I stopped going to the doctor six years ago, when a lot of changes were happening in my life. I had gone through years of doctor visits, stress, injuries, and illness, all due to a sedentary life. After my mom died, she left behind her bike. It was practically unused, I was having serious back problems at the time, and so I decided to take it home.
I was already living without a car, using public transportation and walking a lot, but friends had always asked me why I wasn’t using a bike. When I started riding my mom’s bike, right away there were benefits. My back issues quickly disappeared, and riding my bike became a daily exercise.
After a while I started using my bike to get around instead of public transportation. I was working as a photographer on the other side of the city from where I lived, and I found immense joy saving money while also improving my health by pedaling there. Suddenly, not being so sedentary was making doctor visits or health problems fewer and further between.
All things became easier. I started feeling stronger and more confident, not only physically, but mentally. My job wasn’t hard anymore, and it didn’t matter if I had a twelve to fifteen hour work day, I found that I could perform consistently and with ease when I pedaled the nine miles to get to work in the morning.
Yes, I’d show up sweaty, but you learn something when you start to get in shape by exercising everyday. You learn that sweat is healthy, and that little bit of discomfort is a small price to pay for feeling amazing.
Yes, sometimes I’d have to ride home tired. Yes, sometimes it was raining. Yes, sometimes I didn’t want to get on the bike. Yes, sometimes I got a flat. All of these things are the details you figure out, the same way you’ve figured out the nuances of owning and driving car (parking, gas, insurance, etc). The difference is, the bicycle costs way less to fuel and is easier to maintain. Bikes burn fat and make you feel better. Cars seem to have the opposite effect, and can only catapult you from A to B. Driving a car cannot truly enhance your energy, boost your immune system, raise your spirit, or grow your muscles. Biking does all of those.
If you care about your health, then imagining new routines now is important for when sedentary life catches up, if it hasn’t already. More importantly, making changes in transportation is a concrete option. It will save you money, and it will enable you to be your own doctor. I made these changes when I was poor, and so I know we all have the ability to access our inner power and to execute small changes today.
Don’t just consider routines, imagine them. Having the drive to figure out the nuances of change is about lighting a fire within yourself and letting your imagination run. It can be hard to start that fire at first, but once it’s started the perspective changes and great value emerges. There’s an infinite world of perception out there, beyond what everyone else is doing. Driving in a car is just one perception of how we ought to move and carry stuff. We don’t think of it that way, but when you stop driving a car you might start to.