Two years ago (2!!!!!!), I was writing and daydreaming about life without a car. It sounded fantastic and romantic because life without a car actually means more than just not having a car. You’ll have to go back and read that post if you want to know what I’m talking about, but I’m happy to say, I’ve started claiming that lifestyle that I wrote about two short years ago.
I’m still a car owner. As I mentioned back then, an adventure life without a car would be really difficult. Not impossible, but difficult. And limiting. I still need a way to haul gear and take road trips because last I checked, bus routes to Indian Creek don’t exist, much less the bajillion climbing areas in CO and the rest of the Western U.S. But I did talk a lot about utilizing a bicycle and public transportation for my day-to-day life. Today, I started that.
I moved from my apartment 12 miles away from work in Boulder (uphill both ways) to a house that’s only 6 miles away (and a much gentler bike commute) in Jan. 2014. The bus stop is half-a-mile from my door, and it’s a straight shot to my office, which stops less than a block from there. Even then, I still wasn’t carrying out my whimsical, not-relying-on-a-car lifestyle.
In the winter, I used the cold as an excuse because I didn’t want to walk a half-mile in the cold and snow. (Wuss) Then it got warmer, wetter, and slushier but was still “too cold.” Finally, over the past two weeks, I’ve been unable to make an excuse for not doing this other than perceived plans and barriers that would make it sufficiently inconvenient to carry this out. Today, I finally stopped making excuses.
I stopped using my bag as an excuse. It’s not a perfect commuter bag, but it will work until I get one. I stopped using my lunch as an excuse, because it would certainly spill all over my bag (which it does, even when I drive sometimes). I stopped worrying about being embarrassed if I couldn’t figure it out how to load my bike on the front of the bus. (It was so easy that I was actually embarrassed I didn’t do it earlier.) I stopped worrying about, “what if I want to go to the gym before or after work and need to pack extra clothes and a towel and whatnot?” Well, I do that even when I drive, too.
You see, all of these things are just invisible barriers. They’re not real. We tell ourselves these things every day, and they literally stop us from achieving some of our biggest goals. At the root of it, it could be seen as a fear of success. What if you did stop watching 30 min. of TV every day to work on freelance? What if you did get up an hour earlier to go to the gym? What if you did just automatically deposit your annual raise into a savings account instead of your checking account? What if you did set aside 45 min. once a week to call and talk to old friends or family members?
I can think of hundreds of excuses to not do any of those things because I’m still making some of them for those exact examples myself. None of those excuses are real either, but the fear of success is still the same.
What if I did stop watching 30 min. of TV every day to work on freelance?
- I might succeed, have extra money, build a portfolio, and one day live on my own terms.
What if I did get up an hour earlier to go to the gym?
- I might be a stronger climber, which would allow me to climb bigger and better things, which might further my sponsorship(s), which might lead to a life I can live on my own terms.
What if I did just automatically deposit my annual raise into a savings account instead of my checking account?
- I might someday have enough of a cushion to just up and leave my current job and live life on my own terms.
I’ve made those examples specific to my life, but I’m sure you have some of your own. Do you see how ridiculous they are? How one teeny-tiny little step taken in the right direction carried out to a grand conclusion that would take years to accomplish (if at all) prevents us from taking that first step?
I’ve never been free. I’ve never had the ability to choose to work or not. I’ve always had to be somewhere. I’ve always had commitments. Living free and on my own terms is terrifying. It’s a blast way out of my comfort zone, regardless of how much I want it. And that, is exactly why it has taken this long to ride the bus.