“Why can’t people be more like sparrows?” It’s a question that comes up often in conversation with a mate, and almost every day as I watch the sparrows outside my window. For sure they squabble from time to time, probably over women, but by and large they seem to be a contented bunch whose days consist of eating, flitting here to there and back again, hanging out with other sparrows, not shitting on each other but rather behaving as equals in a generally good natured way, and not trashing their environment. They don’t hog the bird feeder, they don’t kick other sparrows out of their nests in order to rent them on AirBnB for a quick profit, and they don’t place an unsustainable burden on the planet by driving around in “status cars” the size of houses, or concreting over their surroundings by building “status houses” as second (or third, or fourth) homes that, in size and appearance, have more in common with a branch of Lidl than anything you might call a home. Such are the things I think about while out riding a bike here in Cornwall.
It’s not exactly Confucianism, but I think if looking for a motto to live by, one could do a lot worse than “be more sparrow”…
I use my bike as a means to maintain my balance.. it’s a balance that is particularly strengthened whenever I travel for any length of time on my bike.. the pleasure of living with minimal material baggage, minimal exposure to consumer culture, politics, certain crappy people, and the man-made problems that go with all of that. The return from such a journey is always to subject that balance to a steady erosion that comes from being immersed once again in “modern life”. Much as a diver might have to equalise the pressure in the middle ear as they descend, I find that, when stuck at home, I need to compensate from time to time for the external pressures of the world in which I live with an impromptu escape on my bike, even if it’s just a mid-week post-work / pre-work overnighter.
Last Wednesday was one such escape, taking advantage of the long summer evenings to throw some gear at my bike and hit the trail after everyone else is already in the pub beer garden, at the beach with their disposable BBQ, or at home on the sofa. It wasn’t quite as effective as hoped as, being in Cornwall in the summer, it’s hard to escape what’s happening here, something about which I do care deeply, and months of working alone has also taken a toll in that I found it impossible not to be preoccupied with a coding problem. Still very much worth it however, and as it happens the ride was the lubricant needed to imagine a creative solution to that problem so my preoccupation was perhaps not necessarily a bad thing, for now.
Anyway, back to the sparrows. It’s not exactly Confucianism, but I think if looking for a motto to live by, one could do a lot worse than “be more sparrow”.