“This old brooms had 17 new heads and 14 new handles in its time.”
After many weeks of solid work, I managed to turn Gulliver, the bicycle that took me to Bhutan, from this into this.
It looks like a completely different bike. Maybe it is? In the process of stripping the bicycle down and rebuilding up from scratch, replacing more bits than I kept, I got to wondering what Gulliver is? The core of him is the frame but even if that went then he’d still live on someone – if not just as an idea within me but physically all the bits of him will still exist in this universe. Eventually those parts will manifest into something else. It goes the same for any of us. . .
What am I? What are we?
I’ve long been fascinated by the idea that the body regenerates itself every 7 to 10 years. It is not true. Whilst things like skin, blood cells, parts of the brain, liver, and even our bones regenerate over the course of time there are also some cells in our body that are with us from birth till death. This includes our teeth enamel, the lens of the eye, the cerebral cortex, which governs memory, thought, language, attention and consciousness. Nevertheless, it does have me questioning what I am.
To think that most of the cells in the hands that are typing this blog post were not with me ten years ago makes me wonder whether they could in fact be referred to as my hands. I gaze around my room and it is probably littered with trace elements of my skin, what I once considered part of my body. The food I eat eventually becomes part of that body, that I, as it feeds the regeneration process. And when I physically die all the bits, even those that haven’t regenerated, will continue to exist someplace in our universe. Maybe I’ll be a human again, or at least a part of another one. Maybe I already am.
The interconnected cycle of life. Amazing. We’re always changing. Life is change. Yet with the turn of the year I find it difficult not to think about making change. Where I’ve come from and where I’m going. I am thinking of all the things I find difficult about the present self and the world around it. And then there is that burning desire to want to change something, anything.
Yet what 18-months cycling to Bhutan taught me more than anything was to not obsessed with change but just to love more – others, self, and the world. There is not much that I can concretely call myself, so why not love as much of it as I can. And by love, I mean to accept things as they are – allowing them to be. Not imposing that burning desire to change. Even the unpleasant stuff, such as what is happening to our Earth’s natural habitats, the pain in our public debate, and my own destructive habits. It’s not like I have any solution at this point better than sitting quietly and watching.
Since I finished Gulliver I’m yet to take him out for a decent spin. He himself has been sitting quietly in my room – all clean and beautiful – oozing love, happy where he is. Every now and then as I’m writing I look up at him and draw a wee smile. He reminds me of change and of love – sitting on him I saw that each day.
I think I’ll finally get out for a decent new year’s spin on Gulliver later though.