Monday, June 14, 2010

Training Wheels

"When real people fall down in life, they get right back up, and keep on walking." Carrie Bradshaw, SATC

I was about eight years old when I got my first bike. It was a hand-me-down, but my Uncle painted it, and added silver grips with sparkles and streamers. He added a pretty white seat and a matching basket.

Now it was my bike, and I loved it.

My dad taught me how to ride. I used training wheels at first, but before long, they were off and I was out of the apartment complex where we lived.

Not long after the training wheels came off, I took a bad spill. I was headed downhill, and by the time I got to the bottom, I was going too fast to stop. I hit a curb, and my bike and I landed (separately) in a neighbor's yard. I was hurt and also embarrassed, not only at having fallen, but in crying over it after the fact.

I rarely rode the bike after that.

That's the thing about life. Sometimes we fall, and we hit the ground so hard, it knocks the wind right out of us. Sometimes, the scrapes and cuts sting so much, we can't hold back the tears. Sometimes, we scar, and are then constantly reminded of how much the fall hurt.

The thing is, we have to pick ourselves back up; we can't let the fall decide whether we ride again. We have to remind ourselves that we're in charge. Maybe we can't control whether we fall (accidents do happen, afterall) but we most certainly can control how we react when we do.

It's ok to fail, as long as we don't stop trying. It's also ok to ask for help when we need it. There are all kinds of training wheels in life - such as family and friends - that we can lean on when we're having trouble finding our balance.

Recently, I decided to try and learn how to ride again. Frankly, my decision was largely based on that fact that someone with whom I enjoy spending time likes to bike - making it something we can do together. So, I went out on Saturday and I bought a bike. Nothing fancy, but after a week of research and testing various sizes and styles, I came across one that seemed to fit.

I thought about training wheels. At first, I felt embarrassed, and thought I'd be too self-concious to use them. Then I thought, "Wait, I want to do this, and it needs to be fun so that I stick with it. So what if it looks out of place? The important thing is I'm comfortable and I'm able to enjoy myself, without worrying."

I couldn't get the training wheels right away, though, so I had a choice: I could wait for my training wheels, or I could give it a try without them. By Saturday evening, I was riding around a (different) apartment complex. I wasn't quick, and I wasn't graceful, and I was a little nervous - but I had fun. I proved to myself that I could do it.

Isn't that what training wheels are for? To boost our confidence until we can find it ourselves? So maybe sometimes, the training wheel we need is the motivation to try something new and exciting. Maybe knowing we might fall, but having the courage to try anyway, is the balance we're all looking for.

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