I really like the two seemingly divergent meanings that are packed into this word. On the one hand, cycling is what many of us know about, a shortened form of the word bicycling. This approach to human transport utilizes the circular spinning of pedals to convey power to the wheel of the most efficient transportation device ever created. It has been a long time since I studied such things, but for one reason or another I recall that we are able to generate about .6 hp on a bike. In spite of this, I have seen others and under the right conditions traveled myself at highway speeds on my pedal bike. It requires a bit of help to overcome the friction with the air, but there are ways to get around the taxing cost of friction. Granted, some are safer than others, but however you choose to take your own bicycling experience to the next level is up to you. Fast on a bike is only fun until something breaks.
The second concept under the same name can be part of how we think about materials, elements, compounds or any parts or pieces of our world. A favorite song of mine by Was Not Was, Anytime Lisa speaks to the fact that even some people we may know make the rounds, going through similar processes and performing many of the same or similar functions but in a variety of specific pairings. The old jelly jars that many of us use(d) as drinking glasses played a similar function in their realm. Their containment function worked for the jelly manufacturer and then, for our juice, milk, Kool-Aid or water. I have seen the same items used to mix cornstarch and water for making soups thicker, cutting biscuits into rounds and holding items such as rubber bands and/or pencils as well. they can contain virtually anything without modification. At some point in their unique paths, they may even make their way into the recycling stream and be reborn as headlights for cars, soda bottles or any number of other consumer goods, perhaps even being reborn as jelly jars. This re-cycling takes vast amounts of energy, so cycling will always win out on that score. (Except for aluminum, whereby massive amounts of energy is saved through recycling.)
The same concept that lies within and behind the hydrologic cycle applies to many varied and disparate elements in our everyday world. There is a carbon cycle, and there are life cycles for aluminum, copper, iron, even the people we know are continually living out their own life cycle and it is for us to understand what ways and means we can find to unleash our full potential at each stage in all of these life cycles. It may be for the highest good to realize that there are specific things each of us can do to facilitate cycling of both our own energies and the resources that we touch daily, but the understanding that virtually everything we touch or consume are in the eternal process of cycling may allow us to see more clearly our own part in it, develop sensitivity to our own actions and a sense of kinship with the planet as we discover exactly how much power we have in our place in it.
The cycling of the seasons, as Black Elk said always return to the same place. The hiding of this truth began, in my estimation, with linear thoughts about time and the duality that drives us to perceive separation between ourselves and the environment. Perhaps if we saw our own lives as integrated with what has become “known” as nature, we would begin to see the fact that as we treat the world around us, so shall we be treated. We can only be as healthy as the world around us allows us to be. If our food, air and water have become tainted, it will be hard to stay healthy ourselves, the cycles play out, whether we understand them of not.
Waste food becomes compost, which in turn becomes soil and then transforms once again back into food. Used paper can be thrown back into a vat and liquified, bleached and rinsed, then strained out over long screens and felts to be reformed into paper again. Even the tin cans which once littered campsites around the globe can be collected, melted down and recycled into siding, roofing or car parts. The reuse of items for other purposes only requires imagination to be reborn into other uses. I like to make a distinction between direct re-use and recycling because the only energy it takes is one of reorganizing our minds to accept another point of view about what the object is, or how we choose to “see” it. Recycling requires a much larger energy commitment.