Culture and Lifestyle

I’ve had a very hard go of things lately. From wondering about finances, to wondering if MMM is still a worthy pursuit, I’ve been in an area of stress and strain mentally the past month or so. Yesterday, while preparing to go out on my ride, I stumbled across a thought that pretty much explained why I’ve been feeling like I do (micro) and some interesting differences about bicycling, tech, and most of the rest of the world around me (macro). The thought centered around what’s lifestyle and what’s culture. And I think it states exactly where I’ve been sitting.

Lifestyle and culture. I’ll kind of define things in the same lens that I was looking at them when I was getting ready to ride. Lifestyle would be something grafted on top of your normal behaviors. It is something unique that adds color to the envirnomnet and culture around you. Culture (therefore), would be those behaviors and items that are litereally the DNA of your environment. Culture is made up of these different lifestyle choices, and in many respects is the product of a lifestyle that has become normal.

Take computing. There was a time when using, talking about, etc. things releated to a computer – even simple word precessing – was considered something that only a few people did. Nowadays, computer is litereally everywhere in this culture. You can’t get a job without computer skills, you go to study and there’s a need for a computer and certain skills, heck, you car has a more powerful computer in it than what’s in your home. Computing is now a part of the fabric of culture.

On the other hand, if you look at bicycling in the US, that’s more or less lifestyle. Not everyone bikes. It is hard as beans for those who have met with the wrong side of a car to get justice. And in some respect – such as my situation yesterday – biking is not so much about getting from one place to another, it is about taking in a different experience of your environment that you have to prep for.

When I look back at MMM and other endeavors I’ve done, there’s been a lot of both this culture and this lifestyle. Usually, for me, those things that I have pushed for being culture, have come across as lifestyle until much later. Other times, I’ve demonstrated some kind of living that seems or acts according to culture, but shows more of a lifestyle choosing on my end (I’ll do some social networking, but never Facebook for example).

Much of the strain that I’m feeling these days is because of this struggle that I have towards what I can clearly use as a part of defining my environment (faith, mobile, bicycling, etc.) and what comes across as a lifestyle choice for others (faith for another could be a matter of believing differently, worshipping differently, or not at all, etc.). Noticing this is good – but the strain has been next to unbearable.

Of course, a solution for someone like me would be to say, “if you don’t want the stress, get in line with everyone else.” And as much as that sounds like fun (er, no), I would rather look towards those layers that allow me to live the culture, but see things in as many different colors as possible.

This morning, I spent over 30min trying to figure out where I’m going to ride, and the type of base-layers to wear (since its a bit cooler today). Back when I was in college, riding was about throwing on some gloves and a hat and just getting out. In college, cycling everywhere is part of the culture. Here, its just a lifestyle choice.

It doesn’t make me feel a lot better to realize this. But, at least now I get why I’ve had a hard go of things. It will be up to me how I respond to this revelation – and if I will continue to push for a layer that exists, even if others don’t yet see it as clearly.