Last spring when the repairman told me he wouldn’t resuscitate my old Schwinn, I knew change was in the air. While I was a bit sad at saying goodbye to my rusty iron horse, (the old gal was still saddled with the child carrier that had escorted my progeny through the years), I was delighted when my wife returned from Wall-Mart (Power, you name-dropper, you!) with a new bike that seemed like something stolen from the set of “Brideshead.” Without any gears and graced with foot brakes and old-fashioned white walled tires, it is a tribute to simplicity. (Do I need to confess that this machine was on sale?)
John Cameron Swayze used to boast of the Timex watch, “It can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’” – and that applies to my new bike as well. Without gears, there is almost nothing to break. And the fact that it doesn’t look sleek and shiny makes it even less appealing to would-be thieves. (I discovered that child carriers are almost as good as bike locks in this regard.) But its true charm lies in its utter simplicity.
Strangely enough, that’s the same quality that makes the Ipad so appealing; the machine came with no directions. That’s right. The Apple folks deliberately created a computer so simple in design and function that even non-mechanical types can figure it out.
As life becomes increasingly complicated, simplicity becomes increasingly important. In my own small world, with the intricacies and multi layered permutations of the IB, and the Ministry of Education, and OISE , and Revenue Canada, we have become NASA-like in our numbing efforts toward efficiency. I know we can’t all hang around Walden Pond “like hippies around the campfire” , but we might still try follow Thoreau’s advice – even if it means spinning around town on an ugly bike.