The Wheels

They are my way around the world now; not that I never used them before, but every day they have become an intricate part of my life. I need the wheels to conduct my life, one that has changed in a most pleasant and satisfying way by circumstance, children and the reality of another reinvention. This time it’s personal.

Many times in life we have to make a bargain, a deal, or a trade-off. Compromise is the key to minimizing frustration and anger. You make trade offs in life for things that are more important than you. There is a feeling of liberation in knowing that the things one decides to make a priority means one must sacrifice for the greater good. This is not giving in or giving up. This feels unselfish, though it feels awkward to make that statement. This proclamation to oneself seems counter-intuitive to the very nature of the definition of character – the way you think and behave when no one is looking.

John Scott, ReinventionThese wheels are rolling this morning, rolling underneath my seat. I like to daydream and look out my big window.While the terrain and the topography is basically the same, they still look different every day. The life cycle of an old barn or windmill is measured in much slower scale, as rust and rot do their business quietly, waiting for a windstorm or a change of seasons to effect a more cosmetic visual change. But it’s still different. From birds resting in water along the Pacific Flyway to a critter stalking prey up a hillside, even a random person walking where people usually don’t, I am never bored with the view.

The wheels are of different shapes and sizes, and they support different types of vehicles. They each make a unique sound. Some of my wheels make a clickety-clack noise, which for me is ideal because its rhythm and tempo are conducive to both writing and stealing a little nap. My friend Micheletti once suggested that a sure cure for my chronic insomnia would be a bed that mimicked this ride.

My other wheels roll on tracks that look like my clickety-clack ones, but these wheels screech on curves. The sound is entirely the opposite. These wheels suggest speed and purpose. I look at the homes along the route, the house’s inhabitants bombarded every seven minutes by the screech and the groans of the cars as they maneuver past. The houses range from ramshackle to urban fortress; the route my wheels now traverse conveniently missed the wealthy hoods when they were first constructed. It saddens me that the trade-off these folks made required them to literally bar the windows, doors and yards of their homes. There are predators outside; the thugs will take what they want and steal what they think they need without giving a second thought to character or community. The homeowners or renters are prisoners without a prison.

You might wonder if I too feel imprisoned, locked inside these enclosures with no other options available other than the wheels most of us are above each day. Those wheels roll on crowded streets and freeways, their drivers texting and talking and eating, doing almost everything except being aware of the space they have to share, with only an off ramp to escape. I look at the freeway wheels, barely moving or not moving at all, and I can’t help but feel a little smug, as if I am in on the secret to stall-free travel. I’m not trading places with wheels that never move, and I don’t think my fellow long-haul commuters would either.

I must use all three of these kinds of wheels every day; the ones that clickety-clack, screech, and the ones that are part of the steel and glass prisons that so many millions of us are trapped in every morning and every afternoon. My itinerary is precise, but it’s subject to many variables. If one set of wheels is not on time, or they break, or are affected by wind, weather or the choice of someone walking in front of them to leave the world behind, the schedule is shot. It’s not enough to have a plan B – I need a plan C and D as well. This past Wednesday I had to go to E.

The wheels are my best friend. They give me time to work and write and think and read. What if you were offered two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon to be above some wheels, wheels with a bar car and WiFi? If you didn’t have to be above the wheels, it’d be pretty easy to blow those hours off, right? If the hours were negotiable, we’d almost always let them slip away.

I have no such negotiation. I choose my wheels because they chose me first. It is what it is, these wheels, but I have changed how I feel about them. It’s a gift. It was meant to be. Like any relationship, it’s not perfect. One of my sets of wheels couldn’t roll this afternoon because of some track debris. It knocked over the proverbial domino that made them all fall over.

But the best part of riding on top of these wheels is knowing where I’m going…home.

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John Scott is an instructor and the career services manager at the School of Communications and Media Technologies, Academy of Art University San Francisco. Check out John’s book “Destination: Reinvention,” on sale in the Amazon bookstore. The hardcover edition is on sale now at Lulu. Audiobook available on Audible and iTunes.

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