We are all molded. Each of us is molded a little more every day. We’re molded by the people we meet, the places we go, and the events we take part in. We’re molded by nature, by blind luck. We’re molded by the chances we take. And we are all molded, all shaped, by the ostensibly infinite number of choices we’ve made, and will make, in our lifetimes.
I say this because the challenge is nearing its final week and I can’t help but begin to reflect on the experience. I wanted this challenge to be more than the prizes, fame, jewelry, sponsorships, record deals, etc., etc.
Obviously, I’m joking. Of course I want all of those things too.
But most of all, I wanted to learn something. I wanted to change. I wanted to BE change.
Still, we’re not all presented with the opportunity to be the first man on the moon or the woman who cures cancer (get a move on sister!) Some battles are fought as individuals who, collectively, form a whole.
I am just one person who has said, “Enough is enough! I don’t need
the gas prices
the hours wasted
I don’t need a car.”
When did the car become a staple of the American lifestyle? Forty years ago it was fortunate for a family to have ONE car. Now moms and dads each have their own SUV and the 3.5 children each drive their own hipster vw’s. Cities can’t keep up with the inundation of CARS. CARS. CARS. There aren’t enough parking spots. There isn’t enough space. And I don’t have enough patience.
So what’s stopping us from getting rid of our cars or just using our cars less? Fear? The unknown? Laziness? There’s a plethora of reasons I’m sure. And I really am sure. I’ve had those same reasons for years. But not anymore.
I’m still a skeptic. I’m not convinced all things can be accomplished without a car. But I love when things CAN be accomplished without a car; and it’s way more than you would think.
So I’m just one of so many others who have already realized what I’m realizing. Arlington was just chosen as one of the most “walkable” cities in America. It’s also recognized as being one of the top 50 Biking Cities in the country. The resources are at our finger tips.
I know this is my own challenge, one which I will win (mid-speech smack talk bomb dropped on you whaaaaat). But I challenge everyone who’s reading this to give it a shot.
My brother told me that he wants to start biking into work a few days a week because of this competition.
A friend of mine called from outside of Chicago. He told me I’ve inspired him to use his car less. He’s been walking and biking way more. Aside from the obvious health and money reasons, he mentioned that he’s able to go out to the bars downtown and not worry about driving home.
A) That’s probably something he should have been practicing already
B) It’s STILL a valid reason to use your car less. I know it’s not the type of reason you’ll see posted on a metro station sign: Go Car-Free So You Don’t Get DUI’s!
But it’s true. Whether you’re a college undergrad who wants to celebrate turning 21, a couple trying to cut back on costs, or an environmentalist trying to reduce your carbon footprint, going car-free CAN BE and SHOULD BE for you. There are so many benefits to using your car less. After three weeks of doing it myself, I’m hard pressed to come up with more than one or two reasons I would need to own a car at all.
So I return to my original thought. We are all molded. We are all being molded even as we sit here typing and reading away on the computer or phone. I for one like who going car-free is molding me into. I’d like to think that I’ll be able to look back on this challenge and say, “that’s the event which changed my life.” Who knows what you can do with more money, better health, and believe it or not, more free time. Maybe I’ll use the saved money for a vacation. Maybe I’ll use my extra free time reading or playing guitar. Maybe I’ll stand by the side of the road tossing dollar bills at the cars stuck in bumper to bumper traffic while I laugh and smoke victory cigars. That last one is probably lower on the “options list” but I’m just saying, the possibilities are endless.
Who do you want to be molded into? Do you want to drive to work in your car every day and spend two hours in traffic? Do you want to be miserable when you get home? Do you want to be broke? Do you want to add to the overwhelmingly large problem of pollution?
Or do you want to be free, with the wind in your hair as you cruise past the fender benders, bumper to bumper traffic, and frustrated beeping? Do you want to have extra money to spend on yourself or your mom for mother’s day or your kids- or again, maybe just yourself? Do you want to look great? Do you want to feel great? Well? Do you?
We ARE the decisions we make. If you haven’t tried using your car less already, don’t feel guilty.
Tomorrow’s a new day. Just think about it. You owe it to yourself.
I’m Car-Free Matt, and I approve this message.