I am, by nature, a perfectionist and something of a critical individual.
I used to think I only subjected myself to my intense critical drive, but in fact I have a long history of judging other people, too. It just so happens that I dressed that judgment up in the cloak of righteousness: you know, I felt justified, as long as I believed I had good reason to say, "UR DOIN IT RONG."
Not that I tended to say it quite that way — in fact, I often just thought it, and squirmed with internal discomfort. I was very much attached to the idea that there was one right way to do just about anything.
Cycling has taught me that sometimes intelligent, rational people disagree pretty passionately about things, and that sometimes the arguments on both sides are pretty darned compelling. Likewise, it's taught me that I am sometimes viscerally uncomfortable with someone else's way of doing things for reasons that are less than rational.
As much as most of my writing here is pretty air-headed and tongue-in-cheek, I do believe that, given enough time, bikes make better people. They carry us more directly into the face of reality than most other conveyances (I believe, actually, this might be one of the good things public transit has to offer — it's eye-opening to ride jam-packed in a metal box with 64 or more other humans on a hot June day in Baltimore, for example). They teach us to be independent and resilient in ways that cars don't. They make us question our own abilities and learn when (if we are wise at all) to ask for help.
I'm still not really great at any of this. I have noticed lately, though, that when I want to flag down other cyclists and offer my opinion, it's no longer usually a matter of feeling uncomfortable that they're doing something 'wrong,' so much as one of seeing ways in which their ride could be a little more fun (pull your seat up an inch or two and you won't have to work so hard) or a little safer (it really is okay to ride with the flow of traffic — you're less likely to get hurt that way).
This isn't to say I don't have my unnecessarily critical moments (drop frames continue to weird me out for reasons I can't explain — and I don't mean guys on drop frames, I just mean drop frames, period). Just that I think things are getting better. Maybe it means I'm mellowing out a bit, or something.
I'm not sure how to wind this up. It's such an open-ended idea.
I know that as a decent human being, I still have a long way to go. I'm in the process of re-shuffling my belief system: my understanding of how relationships should work; my relationship to the acquisition of worldly goods (which I used to avoid pretty stringently, but lately I've allowed myself to experience the profound longing for bicyclobilia that seems to drive much of the cycling world); my relationship to work; my relationship to my fellow human beings in general.
I guess this is all part of growing and living in this world. Change is the only real constant — we continue to change 'til we die.
It's a question of learning to embrace change, rather than fight it, I guess.
I hope this makes sense.