Planning Bicycle Tours In Uncertain Times
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow” – Albert Einstein
“Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum” (I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am) – Rene Descartes
Days turn to weeks, weeks become months and the world we once knew, one of booking a flight in the morning, packing your bike in the evening and flying across the world the next day, has disappeared. We ponder and wonder and each of us deals with the situation in our own way. Ever since the new coronavirus appeared in our collective consciousness at the beginning of this year, there has been a plethora of information, misinformation, fiction and fantasy fed to us mere mortals. What are we all suppose to do with this, whether as individuals trying to make the best decision to stay healthy and carry on with our lives or as planners who create events for the near and not-so-near future?
Five months ago, I wrote a blog – Rediscovering Freedom – in which I quoted the most famous of Stoic practitioners – who actually led the Roman Empire during a plague – Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He said “what nature has given me to deal with this situation”. If you search coronavirus and Stoicism, you will find several articles that discuss the way this old philosophy of life can be helpful in dealing with the current situation. But there are other ancient schools of thought that can offer us guidance in these trying times.
Take, for instance, another philosophy that has its roots both in Eastern and Western thought with each possibly borrowing and being influenced by the other. The western lineage has its origin, as do many of other philosophies of life, in ancient Greece. It was there that Pyrrho of Ellis, who was born around 360 BC, espoused what is known as Pyrrhonism. The goal of Pyrrhonism, according to Wikipedia, “was eudaimonia, commonly translated as happiness or welfare”. However, more accurate translations have been proposed, identifying the meaning as “human flourishing, prosperity and blessedness which the Pyrrhonists sought through achieving ataraxia (an untroubled state of mind), which they found could be induced by producing a state of epoche (suspension of judgment) regarding non-evident matters.” The main point, for the purpose of this blog of the Pyrrhonian Sceptics (not to be confused with more famous Greek history the Pyrrhic Victory), is that Pyrrhonian Sceptics taught themselves to doubt everything and thus attain a certain serenity – an untroubled state of mind.
Serenity seems to be in short supply nowadays and, to my knowledge, there is no digital company – whether in Silicon Valley or elsewhere – that has created anything that can give you serenity, though they can sure sign you up for all kinds of alternatives, for a monthly sum of course.
If, however, you are looking for some clarity and serenity in difficult times such as we are now experiencing, the one clear recommendation I can make is this; spend less time in front of a screen and more time being outdoors, whether working in the garden, chasing your kids and grandkids, taking walks or, best of all, cycling. There you are bound to find at least some calmness.
If you really want to find serenity, than start by practicing scepticism right now and go ahead and doubt everything I have written here. After all, now that my head is covered in white hair (in ancient Greece I would be called an elder and perhaps even respected for my wisdom), I can, without any doubt, claim that I am an absolute expert on everything I know nothing about, including Philosophical Scepticism. To put it in words of another old Greek, “the only thing I know is that I know nothing.”
All of this is to tell you that neither I, nor the TDA staff, nor anyone else out there, know for sure what is coming, but to quote another old man with wild white hair, Albert Einstein, “we try to learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow.” And we hope to see you on your bikes, sooner rather than later.