Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Where's my good citizenship award?

I'm giving up a beautiful day of bike commuting tomorrow because I'm going to a municipal law workshop in the evening in a town 25 miles from where I work and 35 miles from home.

I might make the start of the workshop by bike if I sprint out the door exactly at quitting time and hammer as hard as I can. Then I could sit and stiffen for a couple of hours before trudging home in the dark. I would probably pull in close to midnight. It's hard to match daylight average speeds by headlight. Bike transportation isn't always practical.

Wednesday looks like the best day of the week for the last few days of official summer weather. I can't think about it.

Thirty years ago it was just me and a bicycle. I was just about to sell my car. Shortly after that I took my bachelor's degree and my unrealistic dreams into the Real World, as we called it then. After years of carefree drifting I got to the point where I thought I ought to help with the grunt work of running things. Citizen government needs citizens who will give up some of their own time and learn how to make government by the people work. It's easy to fork out tax money and bitch about how it's spent. But how else are you going to pay the professionals who will do what you can't or won't? It's easy to declare that we need smaller government, but let me tell you from first-hand experience: three people can make government gridlock. Two either agree too readily or constantly stalemate each other. One makes a dictatorship. So you're going to have some frustrations no matter what. Want to do something? Get involved. And bring a constructive attitude with you.

I don't get paid. I'm elected to one board and appointed to one commission. Because so few people have the time or inclination to get into town government, almost everyone works two boards, and some town functions remain unfilled.

Sometimes I wish I was still a cynical and hopeless drifter, free to take off whenever I felt like it. I could still enjoy the beauties of our dying world and the pleasure of a few good friends. Conveniently, even though I labor with the cynical belief that degeneration will prevail despite our best efforts, I'm not much of a drifter. As a cynical and hopeless homebody, I figure I might as well take a stab at staving off the inevitable catastrophe, since I'm hanging around anyway.

I'm still doing my best to avoid being put in charge of anything. I'll do the metaphorical equivalent of shovel work for now. My body may not wander, but my mind still likes to. Some unrealistic dreams live on.

I just have to hold on for Thursday's ride.

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