Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Creativity and the Car-Free Life

In the midst of daily life with little ones, how easy it is to forget our own personal and creative pursuits! One more meal, one more load of laundry, one more diaper, and soon the day is over and we don't know exactly what we did all day. A certain amount of "accomplishment amnesia" is inevitable when one's primary responsibility is to keep small humans alive for one more day.

But whether we work from home, work away from home, or primarily take care of home and children, we all need personal pursuits. They maintain our balance and sanity and remind us that we are still individuals. We have passions, abilities, interests, and Selves that will ideally live on well after our kids are grown, and we still need to cultivate those now.

This is one reason why I love not having a car, even in our current not-ideal-for-walking situation. But wait a minute, you might think, doesn't a car leave you more free time for creative pursuits? You get your errands done sooner and voilĂ , look at all the time that is left over. That is supposed to be the idea, but it doesn't always work out that way, does it? How much time is wasted sitting in traffic, finding parking spaces, loading children in and out of car seats, or waiting for car repairs? And with the possible exception of waiting on car repairs, none of that time is relaxing or free time for personal endeavors.  Having a personal automobile also leads to a habit of going places in the car just because it's there, circling retail establishments and thinking about the things we might "need." Hardly a recipe for creativity or frugality or simplicity, for that matter. Instead of investing time on what we really and truly want to accomplish, we fall into the trap of going and going "just because".  I know because I find myself doing the same thing whenever I am driving a car.

By contrast, when I go anywhere walking or biking, I am getting exercise, getting rid of stress, and spending valuable brainstorming time on my various creative projects. When I take public transit, I don't need to focus on the road, so I can read, write, or even knit. Being car-free usually means combining trips to the store or other errands, so the time spent on those necessary activities is combined, leaving more free time at home and more fulfilling and fruitful travel time as well.


  1. Heather, I am so enjoying your blog! I appreciate your fun and down-to-earth approach to life and being you. There is one thing that I have to admit is a Fear about more foot-focused transportation: Pollution inhalation. We live in an area where it is difficult to use residential streets to get anywhere and it makes me uncomfortable to think about breathing in, and exposing my son to, lots of exhaust fumes. Have you considered this/read about this/developed any opinions about this?

  2. Marta, you know, I quite honestly had not given this a lot of thought because for the most part, we walk on residential streets that have few sidewalks, but also few cars for most of the day. I found this article: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/12/people-trying-avoid-air-pollution-might-be-getting-even-more-pollution/4249/ that discusses how a slight change in route can make a difference in pollutants. For example, traveling just one street over from a major street will reduce your exposure, or trying to walk/bike/catch the bus during non-rush-hour times of day. Apparently, the exhaust doesn't just hang around waiting to get you. Do you have many bike paths where you live?