Picking up my bike from the shop, I immediately noticed how clean my drivetrain was. Especially the cassette. Wow! They really go the extra mile here, I thought.
Thousands of miles had passed underneath, like rolls of black-and-white film. Still, I didn’t understand—was ignorant about—the fact that I hadn’t adequately cleaned my bike’s drivetrain in years. Probably never.
In all likelihood, the mechanic felt compassion for my bike, and for the poor sap who owned it, and decided to do us all a solid.
The moment I realized this, I entered into the cycling equivalent of going to school naked, unprepared for the final exam.
In Western culture, the word ‘ignorant’ carries with it a great deal of baggage. It’s a term that frequently insinuates contempt or scorn, giving rise to knee-jerk ego reactions. How dare they think I don’t know everything?, we lament.
Like almost everything else in life, though, finding value in the term requires constraint or context. Specifically, Dictionary.com defines ignorance as “lacking knowledge or information about a particular subject or fact.”
And the fact is that we’re all ignorant about many, many things. I’m ignorant about physics, for example. Hell, even about *gasp* many aspects of bikes. But the refusal to accept, or resistance against, reality, only results in its persistence.
Instead, it’s super fucking cool that once I realize I’m ignorant about a topic, I wield power to learn more and eventually remove my ignoramus badge.
Whether cycling or anything else, learning is a spectrum. Don’t accept willful ignorance.
And it’s okay to cringe along the way, which indicates you’re growing.
Change where you please. Rinse and repeat.