Thursday, 28 June 2012

Apocaloptimistic expectations.

I learned a new word today.  Kindly allow me to give it to you in context: 
"I am an eternal apocaloptimist." 

(you've gotta love Facebook.)

Face it. Humanity's prospects are dismal at best. The possibility of our extinction exists on so many fronts that most of us can't see the forest  for the news. I mean trees. And yet...

And yet, as Bucky Fuller said “There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”  As soon as enough people (a critical mass, if you will) share a common vision, it becomes inevitable. What we collectively hold to be true must come to pass, because our actions always reflect our beliefs. Imagine our cities as beautiful, liveable, soul sustaining places where people thrive in peaceful, creative symbiosis.  The realities of traffic congestion are ugly on so many levels, but within every city exists the potential for something much greater.  

Leave your objections curbside, suspend your disbelief for a moment, please, and roll with me on this one. Stanford University recently released a study which determined that the world can be powered by alternative energy using today's technology within 20-40 years, and it can be done at costs roughly comparable to conventional energy." Hard to believe, isn't it?  What they discovered is that all that is needed is the societal and political will to make it happen.

This is just one example of a greater, fundamental truth: we can create any kind of world we choose.  Just be aware that in the absence of conscious creation, our greatest fears are drawn to us.

Let us envision a planet populated with beautiful, happy people who spend their days doing all of the things they love most, and their nights doing each other. Remember: if you can envision it, you can create it, so think happy thoughts and join me in creating a better world!

How are we going to get there? It's dead simple, and that's the beauty of it. As with any worthy goal, you start with a vision, a destination, an idea of where you're going, and then you take it step by step and one day at a time.  The Dali Lama says that the only way to create world peace is to create peace in your own world, and this resonates with truth, too, so be happy. Love your body, love yourself and ride your bike.  

Touch the people you love. Do it often.  Everyone needs at least ten non sexual touches a day just to maintain optimal levels of oxytocin, so hug your kids, your friends, your family and your pets.  And like the man says, "Make love, not war."

I've mentioned the bike path to world peace; the premise is this: people who ride their bikes every day have WAAAAAY more sex.  Riding a bike increases your brain’s happy chemicals: things like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, so that you will be a happier person when you ride your bike every day.  Not only are you happier, but you look better, too, with your toned thighs and tight butt, and coincidentally, you are also healthier, so you have more energy, more vitality, and a greater ability to make the most of your life.  This new you, the healthy happy and hot you, gets laid a lot.  Getting laid a lot creates a cascade, a flood of oxytocin in your brain.  Oxytocin is your brain's love drug, and a good dose of the stuff causes measurable behavioral changes.  People with plenty of oxytocin floating around in their brains act in loving, trusting, and kind ways, and when enough people figure this out, well, that’s when you find humanity riding a planetary path to peace.

The long and short of it is that we needn’t worry about bike lanes in Bahrain, just so long as we are proactive in creating sustainable infrastructure in our own cities.  People are funny that way… a bit monkey see monkey do-ish, which means the best thing you can do for world peace is to get on your bike, get happy, get fit and get laid a lot.  You with me so far? Good, because there is a line in the sand, and once you cross it, you will never go back to the dark side.

Let me show you the line and what lies on either side.  Imagine, if you will:

It’s Saturday afternoon in Vancouver, and you have a little bit of time on your hands.  You’re all for world peace and you love making love, so naturally you get on your bike.  Gravity has a mysterious way of working, so you eventually find yourself on the seawall with hundreds of other cyclists, checking out something that looks a lot like this:

This reclusive species of North Shore mountain-bike enthusiast sometimes comes to town to show the rest of us what kind of stunts they get up to on those crazy, kick-ass trails you can find just a hop, skip, and a bridge away.That’s exactly what I ran across other day.  It was almost enough to send me on my way across the bridge and up the mountain right then and there, because hey! I've always wanted to fly...

Instead of hitting the trails, however, I joined Velopalooza's Elemental Gardens ride, and found myself in the company of a number of conscious and concerned citizens, and one Gordon Price.

He looks happy, doesn't he? It's as if he's getting some....

Now, if you are a recent transplant to Vancouver, or if you are one of the poor unfortunates who don’t actually reside here, then you could be forgiven for never having heard of Mr Price.  Dunno what my excuse is, though, cause till Saturday I hadn't heard of him either.  Several questions and a rather interesting ride later, however, and I had to take my helmet off to the man.  He's been integral to creating the infrastructure which makes this such a great city to live and ride in, and he’s an example of how a community of like minds can come together to create high-density spaces where happy people live, work and play together in close yet comfortable proximity.

(like this...  :)
According to the great Wiki, Mr Price first made a name for himself when he created a safe streets program to rid his neighbourhood of prostitution, and he is renowned as Vancouver’s  first openly gay councilor, which is probably why, during his 16 years as a city councilor, he represented Vancouver’s West End, our first openly gay neighbourhood.  He is the director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University, and Portland and Seattle know him as the man who lectures at their universities and advises their city planners on matters relating to transportation, development, and land use (read bike lanes). All of these points go to show that he has strength of character and conviction, but that’s not what impressed me.

It’s his vision, really, and his understanding of the eventual and absolute limits of our global car obsession which made me sit up and take notice.  The man is 62, and he’s a healthy, happy, fit, long-time member of a distinct and remarkable cultural shift which began here almost thirty years ago and continues to evolve today.  Price has written extensively on all of the issues surrounding sustainable development and livable cities, and he has won several awards, including one for an article which elucidated just how deluded we North Americans are in our utter car dependence.

It's a great little piece.  It really ought to be given to every city planner on the planet today, after it’s tattooed on the heart of the one man in Canada most in need of a bike and a LOT of sex, Toronto’s anti-bike advocate and somewhat less-than-worthy leader,  Mayor Rob Ford.  

Do YOU feel like kissing him??  You can bet your last loonie he's not doing it every day.  Not quite so happy, this one...

You see the line in the sand perfectly clearly now, don't you?  On one side you will find hot, fit, and happy, and on the other, you find miserable people like him, stuck in traffic in their smelly cars with a body pumped full of stress hormones and a hate-on for all sorts of things, but especially bikes...  

Sigh.  I feel sad for those poor sods in Toronto, with such a sorry stick in the mud for a mayor, but then they voted for him, didn't they? The good citizens of Toronto may one day wake up and vote for evolution, but don't hold your breath. Let's leave Mayor Ford to fall off the scales again and again as he continually fails to lose some of the enormous burden of weight which he hauls around IN HIS CAR every day… 

... and turn our attention instead toward creating our own little piece of Heaven on Earth.  In the end, your experience here will have everything to do with your expectations and your beliefs.  What kind of world are you working toward, and what kind of experiences are you gaining from your time spent here? You know which side of the line you'll find me on. I've been looking for Liz in the bike lane for ages now, so I know how good it is here...
Where are you?

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