Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bicycle Repair and Life Skills

My bicycle was recently borrowed by my roommate. Upon return, the front tire was flat. Now, I take it in good faith that my roommate was not careless with the bike, and perhaps the same thing would have happened the next time I rode it. The fact remained: the bicycle needed repair.

My first instinct was to return it to its birthplace, Cyclepath, pay the necessary fee and have the work done for me. But how to get it there? No. There must be a better way. Couldn't I do it myself!

I searched the internet, typing things like "learn bicycle repair and maintenance." I was dismayed. There seems to be no place to learn these skills outside of joining a competitive biking club. The only place I found was Bike Pirates, a non-profit, do-it-yourself, guided repair shop downtown. Cool! They even have a women-and-trans-gendered-only day.

While that was a nice glimmer of hope, ultimately, I grew quite angry and my inner feminist reared its head. Why don't I have any mechanical skill, and why is it so difficult to find training in a non-professional capacity?

After meditating on this for the day, my compassion for my own plight expanded to a general humanistic compassion. Why is it that we do not personally learn such basic life skills in school?
While learning mathematics, critical thinking, science, humanities, phys ed. etc is truly critical for students; why is it not mandatory for all students to actually learn to build, fix, and make things? While most highschools still have some 'trade' classes, most aim to prime students for the workforce. "Home Ec" still teaches baking, but also how to work in a commercial kitchen.

Is it too idealistic to have lifeskills classes simply to expand the general populace's ability to DIY? There is a vested interest, I believe, in keeping thinking away from doing and creating different strata in society. I'm sure ypyp has more to say on the subject, as I saw on her desk a novel addressing the philosophy of work.

I wonder though. We're slowly discovering, or perhaps rediscovering, that holistic thinking in terms of our own health is crucial to our personal well being. We have begun to recognize the connection between physical, mental and dare-I-say spiritual maintenance. Perhaps if we reinvigorated and respected the balance of thinking work and physical work (and the spiritual work that goes in-between), our societies would be stronger.

It's a new idea. Please be gentle with it, I've yet to develop it.

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