I am home now. I slept in my own bed, I went back to yoga, I took my housemate out to my favorite restaurant; I did some repairs for my tenants. Tomorrow I return to work. I think if my email inbox exceeds 1,000 messages that will be reason enough to quit my job outright, catch a flight to Denver, and do it all over again.
But I have a trip to DC later this week and one to Albany the next; it won’t be long until the old pattern of daily life becomes the new pattern of daily life and the pattern of pedaling evaporates into memory. I do not despair because even though my tan will fade and my legs will never be so sexy again, my pedaling will always be imprinted in me.
Over the past seven weeks I spent a lot of time riding my bike, but I spent almost as much time writing stories of my journey. First there were the daily stories on this blog; where I went, what I ate, the characters I met. But there is another tale, one that grew slowly at first and then consumed me even more than the cycling. It is the story of what my mind was doing while my legs were spinning, how my trip fit into the context of the larger issues of the summer of 2011, the national debate on the debt ceiling, the reduced US bond rating, and the ensuing the stock market roller coaster.
That tale has taken the form of a small book. I finished the first draft as I finished my vacation and plan to pedal it for publication in some form. Since my blog readers have been my constant companions on the journey, I want to offer any who may be interested the opportunity to read the draft, and I welcome any comments, from the overall concept to the misplaced comma, that my beloved readers may want to offer.
If you are interested in reading the draft of Guiding
Principles – Observations on America at Ten Miles per Hour, please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will send a copy to anyone who is
interested next weekend. Before you jump up and yell, “Send it to me!”, please consider the following. Please do not request the draft unless you actually plan to read it. If you plan to read it and comment, please do so by October 1, as some of the material is timely and I will be looking for publication soon. If I have interested readers from the Boston
area, we may be able to meet in person to discuss everyone’s comments. Given those parameters, I welcome anyone interested to participate.
I have attached the draft synopsis of the book to provide an idea of content, though regular blog readers already know some of the stories.
Thanks to the thousands of hits I received during my journey. Knowing that I would blog everyday kept my observations keen and gave context to my effort. I will continue blogging, but will return to my former practice of posting about once a week. Less on cycling, more about Haiti and yoga and this crazy place we call the United States.
Observations on America at Ten Miles per Hour
by Paul E. Fallon, 123 pages
During the summer of 2011, while the United States debated its debt ceiling, lost a notch of bond rating and witnessed a stock market roller coaster, I rode my bicycle from Denver, CO to Cambridge, MA. As I rode, the dissonance between the antics in Washington, DC and the solid efforts I observed in my fellow citizens compelled me to consider that our political system has ceased working in our best interests.
As an architect who specializes in designing large scale hospital projects, I use a process called ‘Guiding Principles’ to help clients achieve their objectives by bringing together all constituents, finding areas of aligned interest and developing solutions that maximize everyone’s desires. It is a positively
focused, win-win approach to optimizing design solutions; diametrically opposite the partisan posturing, media bickering, and finger pointing emanating from our nation’s capital.
Over a meandering 3,000 miles through eleven states I wondered how a guiding principles approach could be applied to our nation’s challenges. The unique character of each state I visited prompted me to consider a range of issues, from our food production system to education, from foreign policy to clean government, from aging infrastructure to healthcare, and of course, the economy and the implications of our ever expanding national debt.
Guiding Principles is a travelogue of our national challenges and opportunities observed through the lens of the bountiful land and resilient Americans I met on my journey. It does not provide solutions so much as posit our critical issues in basic terms, and offer a strategy to address them in a way that will lead to appropriate and meaningful resolution.
At ten miles an hour the world looks different. The subtleties of our landscape and our national character are easier to
discern, while the latest media buzz sparks, flashes and dies without ever infecting the mind. With nothing but two
wheels, two pedals, two water bottles and two saddlebags, the world is simple and there is ample time for truly important things rise in the mind.
The book takes a critical look at the problems we confront and then identifies the strengths we possess to resolve them in positive ways. It is the story of the characters I met along
the road, it is a wakeup call for respect and understanding in our national debate, it is honest about our shortcomings but optimistic that they can be eclipsed by our potential. It is an anthem to America and how we all benefit when each individual finds his voice in its song.