I am pretty sure this finds everyone in a place, or state of mind, you never dreamed you would have been in about two months ago. When I was writing my latest book, Cycling off the Cliff… and How to Avoid it! I found it to be a very difficult journey. It wasn’t the type of writing I normally enjoy doing, but I felt I really wanted to get it out there because deep down the current business/lifestyle models we were embracing and following into an overbusy, technical, less human-centric world was worrying me and had me thinking about where we were all heading. I didn’t want to sound like I was living in a fantasy world in my mind hoping for changes in business that brought all of us back to smaller, more human-scale models, or a vision of more time with our families and in our communities. So when I hit the print button on Lulu.com,(the platform that published my book), I never could have guessed that we’d be in a world lockdown down heading towards world-wide recession three months later. What a crossroads we have all arrived at, now the big decisions lie ahead, which way do we turn?
We all need to navigate the next moves we make into our future carefully and with our eyes wide open.
If anyone reading this has suffered a personal loss due to the virus, my deepest condolences.
Much peace, Joe
Epilogue (April 7, 2020)
Months after I self-published this book, the Corona Virus pandemic seriously challenged us humans to work together for its containment. After being confined for over three weeks as I write this epilogue, we are being shown that we do have the ability to change radically. As the world heads into an uncertain future, humanity is still strongly shining through.
For one example, the bicycle industry has seen companies – from clothing manufacturers to component and bicycle manufacturers – stepping into totally different modes to be part of the solution; making masks, medical gowns, hand sanitizers and batteries for ventilators. These are just a few of the creative ways showing that the industry’s heart is big. Their willingness to turn us away from the cliff can happen swiftly, and the positive impact they will make to our current situation will affect so many in a positive way. For me, it is both heart-warming and exciting to see the bicycle industry using its passion and ingenuity to help in such an altruistic manner. It also makes me realise that deep down people are willing to make big sacrifices for unknown others. To control the spread of a virus we have come together as one big world working for the greater good.
Can a butterfly flapping its wings in Thailand cause a tidal wave on the other side of the world? We may never know that for certain, but what humanity has seen is that a person coughing in China can bring the world to its knees and change the life of everyone in a very short time. We should now not need to question the fact that tiny changes in our lifestyles and business practices can have powerful far-reaching impacts.
We all hold hope that life will get back to a semblance of normality soon, but do we want to go back to the non-resilient, fragile systems we were so dependent on? Do we really want to lose that wonderful birdsong that has returned to some urban areas? Do we want to forget what a delightful distraction it was to walk the dog in our neighborhood, spend time with our families, or just live from moment to moment? Do those drone shots of traffic-free roads make us secretly smile and think, ‘Wow, isn’t that nice!’? Can something just a little bit different be awaiting our return to the normality we all miss very much? This crisis has given us a chance to see how interconnected we all truly are. These are powerful times and unforgettable lessons.
A book that touched me recently recounted the experiences of a war correspondent witnessing many atrocities that human beings can actually visit upon their fellow humans in the name of right, wrong, religious zealousness, political differences or profit and protection of the status quo. His out-of-balance life led him to become a shadow of his former self, riddled with physical ailments from cancer and a broken back to drug and alcohol addiction. A radical change was a necessity if he wanted to continue being a husband, father or just a normal functioning human being. Here is a quote from that book, Warrior Pose, by Brad Willis.
“Throughout the ages, all great spiritual texts have counseled against greed and self-indulgence. The Bible warns it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The Bhagavad-Gita calls greed, anger and lust “Doorways to Hell.” Buddhism warns that avarice and desire are afflictions that inevitably lead to suffering. Yet we never seem to listen or learn. Great empires perpetually overextend, over-consume, and over-indulge – and most eventually come crashing down.”
Together we can all change what seems to be an inevitable outcome. The circle of repeating past mistakes can always be broken. This crisis has brought out the humanity in all of us; from singing out to each other from our balconies to looking out for the vulnerable in our communities. We now have been given a chance to look at the wider world through different eyes and forge an alternative future together. Can the ‘crashing down’ we are now experiencing actually be an open doorway? The man-made systems we have grown so used to are in turmoil as the natural world uses this time to heal. Maybe we humans would be well-advised to look beyond our temporary confinement and ask ourselves some difficult questions. Can we also use this time to heal? Can we emerge from this crisis into a slightly different modus operandi? Is more time actually more precious than more things and constant upgrades? Can we survive with less and still actually have so much more? Can we seize this fantastic moment in time together? These wise and simple words are good to remember in times like these, and always, “This too shall pass.”
Enjoy the journey! Joe