As Luck Would Have It: Finding Free Stuff on My Bike Rides

Last night I found three free things on my 23-mile bicycle foray around north central Austin, Texas. Well, technically six things, or 15 if you really want to split hairs. I’m calling it three.

4 of 26 books in the series.

The first thing/s I found was/were in one of the Little Free Libraries that are all around town. They’re boxes about the size of a small kitchen cupboard, and they sit on a post in people’s front yards. A sign said, “Take a book, leave a book.” The quality and quantity varies. Some are all children’s books. Others don’t get much traffic it seems. I don’t stop at every single one of them, but this one called to me. And boy am I glad I did because I hit the motherlode! I found four books, all by the same author of a series I’m currently reading. It’s not high literature, but when I get bored of non-fiction, it’s perfect escape pulp fiction fare.

It’s Lee Paces’ Jack Reacher series. I’ve read a few, but not in order; maybe I’ll start to do that. They go by quickly because they are paced well (no pun meant), and it’s always a whodunit. Reacher is an ex-military policeman who travels light yet keeps getting roped into solving crimes. It’s not pretty, like the TV show NCIS. In fact, things get pretty ugly. Some of it’s preposterous but then many criminals are. I realized today that he eats whatever he wants and never works out but is in great shape. Fiction for sure!

One movie was made with a certain short-statured Scientologist, but just the one. I guess it didn’t do too well in the box office. The character Reacher is tall, while actor Tom Cruise is not. I could see Jim Caviezel (Person of Interest) as a better fit for the role; he is tall and just has a more believable dark side. But it’s better to imagine in the mind’s eye. Point is, I got four free books, and that’s pretty cool. When I’m done, I’ll put them in another LFL to pay it forward.

Alexander looks better when free.

A while ago I wrote about whether attracting abundance was a real thing or horse hockey. I cited several examples of thinking about something then finding it, like being thirsty on a walk and seeing an unopened bottle on the road. (Yes, I drank it and didn’t die.) In fact, I just finished a bowl (measured to be 28 grams or one ounce) of Trader Joe’s olive oil popcorn that I found in the bike lane on Congress Avenue downtown. At that point I wasn’t trying to manifest a snack, but I had just biked by the Paramount Theater, and I had recently mentioned to someone that I was hoping their classic summer movie series would be back. If The Secret (a horrible film about abundance that’s still on Netflix) is right though, visualizing what you want does work, just not always in a direct way.

But it sure worked on this ride. For no particular reason, I was thinking about this topic, specifically how to get more money since my lottery tickets are always defective. They say “NOT A WINNER” and I’m beginning to wonder if the Texas Lottery Commission is just messing with me or what. Because I know I’m a winner on the inside, gosh darn it! Anyway, on a dark section of road in a swankier west side of town, I happened to see a dollar bill on the ground. I circled back and it turned out to be a $10 bill. Not $100, but still, a nice little find. I searched around for more, but that was it. I wasn’t going to go put it on the nearby doorstep. Finders keepers, after all. So find number two was not a turd.

The third thing I found I had left the night before on my ride. I had stopped at a picnic table in front of a convenience store to enjoy my last seasonally-flavored pumpkin spice Clif bar (itself a freebie from a bike shop) and some water, and left the bottle there. I went back a day later, and there it was. In fact, a guy with a shopping cart full of possessions he apparently wheeled around (one of the many people who can’t afford the high rent of Austin), was inside chatting with the clerk said he’d seen it. He or many others could have easily taken it, but they didn’t. It put a little smile on my face that humanity isn’t all bad. A new insulated cycling water bottle is probably $20, so it’s not nothing.

Of course it’s fun to find free stuff. It’s no great accident that people put stuff out that they no longer want or need, and other people pick it up. There’s luck and timing in finding good stuff you actually could use. Often I see something I’d like but can’t carry it. But the main things that are free on bike rides aren’t things at all. There’s the feeling of freedom, and fun. Exercise, of course. Seeing the sights, people watching, and sometimes even talking to the humans. Today I found the only alley in a neighborhood I used to live in so I rode on it. It was like a secret road I wasn’t supposed to know about. A modest discovery, a small thing, but free nonetheless. A rich life is about more than just money.

© Strava

Just maybe, on a good day, with the sun shining, or suffering through a ride in the rain but actually enjoying it, one finds a deeper, truer version of themselves out there on the road. You encounter parts of yourself that don’t get revealed sitting at your desk typing or behind the wheel of a car. There’s the grit, the determination, the discipline, the strength, the skill. In finding, or discovering, such qualities there is a sense of self-confidence. No matter what the speed, or how nice the bike, if you’re out there riding, you’re creating a better you, living your best life. But it’s not really free — it’s hard earned. Such insights or knowledge are still waaaaaay better than any objects you may find.

As luck would have it, this is available to many people. If you’re able-bodied, have a bike, clean water to drink, food to eat and don’t live in a war zone or the Himalayan Mountains, maybe you too can go ride your bike. See what you find out there. Maybe some free things, and maybe, with some luck, you’ll find YOU.

What’s some cool stuff you’ve found while riding? Or insights you’ve had about your self?

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8 thoughts on “As Luck Would Have It: Finding Free Stuff on My Bike Rides

    1. i wish i’d started from the beginning and read in order but i think of them like prequels or sequels. not for everyone but sort of like a police procedural / whodunit.


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