Today was the Fourth of July, Independence Day here in the United States. For Americans, it’s a day to celebrate freedom–breaking away and being in control of your destiny.
Last fall, I attended the book signing for Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom. The author described how in the late 1800s women took up bicycling as a hobby and found the freedom they longed for. With a bicycle, for the first time they could go places far from home unchaperoned, even places where they might find themselves in the company of men. Gasp!
I identified immediately, not as a woman, but as a child who found freedom through my bicycle. With our bicycles, my friends and I roamed our subdivision, riding from house to house gathering friends, rolling down to the creek to throw rocks and exploring trails that led to other equally isolated subdivisions. On our bikes we cruised the streets, mastered the trails and even dared to sneak through the cow pasture.
Freedom was knowing we could go wherever we wanted under our own power, moving fast with the wind in our faces. We could go places without our parents and make our own decisions, for better or for worse.
If this sounds like a trip down memory lane, it is. But it’s exactly how I feel when I roam all over town, rolling down the creek trails, cutting through on bike-only passageways, and stopping whenever something catches my eye. On my bike I have the optimism of a young girl with the world ahead of her. Some things never grow old.
What does freedom mean to you? Where or when do you feel most free?