Cycles

I was reminded of the inescapability of life’s cycles from the moment I woke up yesterday to the time I fell asleep. My day began as usual at 5:15 am when my wife’s alarm went off. I typically get out of bed a few minutes after so she can use the shower first. Yesterday, my usual routine changed when Liz came back upstairs to tell me our cat Mojo had died.

Mojo curled up with her best friend Buster some years ago.

Mojo either sleeps on the towels in the bathroom closet because the heating vent goes under the floor there, or on our daughter’s pillow. This morning, Liz noticed Mojo did not get up for her usual saucer of milk, so she checked in Frankie’s room and then the closet, where she found Mojo had passed during the night. Mojo had not been acting ill lately, so I guess dying in her sleep was as pleasant a way to go as one could ask for.

I found her as a tiny black ball of fur and claws while mountain biking in the Southern Kettle Moraine forest. Mojo was about 17, not terribly old for a house cat, but that is a long life for a feral cat. Although she adapted well to life in our home, always happy to purr when you petted her, she really bonded to most closely to our other cat, Buster. Regular readers may remember Mojo’s best friend Buster died last summer. The two were almost inseparable, and our whole family noticed a change in Mojo after Buster left us. She seemed to have lost her lust for life. Perhaps her quiet passing was an attempt to join her pal once again.

My daughter has learned about the cycles of life and death by having to say sad goodbyes to lots of pets. She loves animals and has loved and lost fish, turtles, lizards, various rodents and most recently our two cats. Most are buried under a bleeding heart bush she planted many years ago in our front garden. I draw the line at burying anything too big there though.  We cremated Buster and Mojo.  We still have two happy dogs and a problematic horse. If I outlive them, I promise my neighbors they will not see me digging huge holes in the front garden.

I didn’t have lots of time to grieve for Mojo yesterday morning, as I needed to write and publish a blog post about the House Transportation Bill by 7:30, which means I was at the computer, coffee nearby, at 6:30 AM sharp. As soon as that was published, I hopped on my bike to ride to the office.  Among a bunch of other tasks for the day, I knew I needed to keep an eye on the mark-up session for the bill so I could monitor the Petri/Johnson amendment trying to save federal funding for bicycling.  I then had to write a follow-up post to share the bad news that the amendment had failed to get the necessary votes needed to pass.

Mojo keeping Buster company the day I had to put him down in August.

Besides having to work through the sadness all day, I had a bad feeling about the amendment knowing the political cards were stacked against it, so I decided to take the long way to work. As I pedaled my fixed-out Koga-Miyata “Exerciser” through the real fog outside and mental fog inside, my thoughts seemed to drift in time with my cadence. Back-pedaling hard for stops seemed to push the sad thoughts of Mojo’s death out of my mind. Smooth circles on the flats, I smiled as images of Mojo and Buster cuddled together flashed like a kinescope in my minds eye.

 

Spinning fast downhill, my focus shifted to what the House transportation bill says about how our social values have shifted over time. A country founded on self-sacrifice, hard work and individual liberty, all core elements of cycling, now rewards those who waste precious resources so they can take the easiest way from point A to B. The House bill proposes to pay for that convenience with the gains that come from violating one of God’s most pristine creations. Politics go in cycles, but will we ever return to the values that I still believe in?

When I got to the lake, I stopped for a few minutes to sit on the rocks along the path through the Lakeshore State Park. As I gazed across the gentle waves washing rhythmically on the rip-rap along the Lake Michigan shoreline, I remembered when the park and trail I just rode through was nothing but a pile of rocks left over from Milwaukee’s deep tunnel project … cycles.

The federal money to build trails and urban escapes may be about to disappear, but perhaps that is just another of life’s inescapable cycles. As an advocate, I tend to live my life by that famous Margaret Meade quote and never doubt our goals, but perhaps any success we have had over the last 20 years has been little more than human arrogance conveniently timed with life’s inescapable cycles.

Some may think me a conceited fool, but we have to do something with our lives, so I write this at 7:30 PM, waiting to make a late night national conference call about next steps in our fight to save federal funding for bicycling. In the morning when you read it, I all be back at work, trying to help people understand why bicycling is such a simple solution to so many of our country’s complicated problems. I guess I prefer to tilt at windmills with the best of intentions and love deeply, however fleeting, rather than float like human flotsam on the cycles of life.

 

 

About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

7 thoughts on “Cycles

  1. Dear Dave

    Cycles do come full circle. You have both won and lost. I just got back from international falls mn where we rode our bycicles skied and ran 135 miles. It is a community that now has a republican representative who has ripped bicycling a part. It is a community who benefited from a world famous event involving bicycles.
    The people laugh in the midst of winter as we take off down the trails

    Bicycling is not a favor to any party. No religious group that I know is against it and ther is no moral law that discourages it. Taking it down in Washington is an act of weakness in our political culture. We seem to pick on the little things that make us healthy because too big to fail has armor plating around it
    I ride my bike with people who have the strong values of our country. I value
    My freedom my honor of the land air and water. I freedom to be cost effective in
    My transportation choices. I also contribute to the health of this country

    Don’t give up!!!

    • Thanks Tom, no thoughts of giving up, but sometimes I wonder if we are effective or just fooling ourselves. I plan on pedaling onward, perhaps not 135 miles at a stretch, but forward ;)

  2. Dave – Thank you for sharing your poignant thoughts.

    Whether sadness is a result of natural causes or political activity, the sun rises the next day and we can do no more than persevere. Being true to oneself may not seem like a lot but it is the most any one of us can do. This is why taking personal action is such an important contribution.

    Embrace your sadness while moving forward with the knowledge that every small effort matters in a big way.

  3. Your on-the-rock picture itself proves your commitment to cycling. (And, our old cat, Mitsu, can still trek around the house and hunt for a mouse.)

  4. Dave – keep on peddling. There is a large, somewhat quiet, number of people out there who support biking and will now begin to slowly but surely stand up and lend a hand to make biking better in their communities . I am seeing it in my city right now and it is encouraging. Thanks for all the work you and everyone at the Bike Fed does for all of us.

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