Last night, I saw a guy on a bike in a busy intersection at night and he had a flashing light on both the front and the back of his bike. I thought of how useful this is. At first, I thought that the light didn’t need to flash, but as I thought about it more, I realized that it does. He is so vulnerable on a bike and just a steady light could be a street light, a car, or store sign. The flashing light brings our attention closer to him and helps protect his vulnerability.
Riding a bike brought me back to the days when I lived in a small town in Germany and used a bike as my primary mode of transportation. My bike was so basic and had no lights. Riding a bike was so fun. I would jump on it and scoot into town from my apartment to visit friends. When I would think about my journey, I knew that the bike would get me there so much faster than walking. With this knowledge, I was always much more energetic to make the three mile trek.
It’s been over fifteen years since I lived in Germany, but the friendships I made in that town still last today. I think about how the bike helped me to facilitate and then solidify relationships that I would have never made by sitting in my room alone.
Just last week, I was laughing on Skype with a friend who would meet me four to five nights a week when I arrived with my bike. He is a global leader in Google Analytics these days and who knew that he would go down this path when he would tutor me in German on those evenings.
It was also on those evenings that I talked to him about the U.S. and introduced volunteer programs to him in Boston where the following year he would go to work on his English. He certainly wouldn’t be a leader in an American technology if it wasn’t for that bike and our friendship.
I think of these times today when I sometimes find myself staying at home and not reaching out to friends or “getting on my bike”. So much of my life has come from relationships that I’ve built with people over a conversation. With these thoughts, I look forward to again meeting people in town and seeing what comes of it.