Monday, May 18, 2009

Lessons From My Childhood

Summers as a child were often spent riding bikes all over town with friends -- to the library, to the ice cream stand, to so and so's house, etc. The town has some really steep hills perfect for recklessly riding down without a care in the world. Depending on the hill, this may or may not have including whizzing right past a stop sign, laughing as adults in cars would honk, wave their fists and yell at us. (I would be one of those adults now.) This was before the days of helmets and looking back it was incredibly dangerous.

Once I was dared to ride down the hill by the cemetery, which was particularly tricky because it involved a sharp blind left turn on a narrow street. Not one to back down from a dare, I walked to the very top of the hill with my bike, then mounted it and kicked off. After just a few peddles to get going, gravity kicked in and my descent was underway. While I would have typically gripped the handle bars, in a moment of bravery I let them go.

I can recall the exact sound of my tires, rubber on pavement as they zzzizzed quickly along. I recall seeing houses and people rush by not as individual objects but as a solid blur all running together as I passed them. The wind from the ride down blowing against me as I held my arms outstretched, my eyes opened facing the world head on. It may have only lasted a few seconds but right then in that exact moment I was entirely free.

Life is a lot like riding a bike down a steep hill. Sometimes you have do the scary things, face that fear of whatever you may have head on. Take a risk even though you don't know what the outcome will be. Sometimes you even have to let go of the handle bars and just hope you can keep your balance long enough to have those few moments of complete and total freedom.

The dare ended with me hitting the brakes and skidding sideways into a tree while leaving some flesh behind on the pavement (I still have the scars on my leg). I'll never know if I could have made the turn and after that I became too afraid to try again. I don't do crazy things like that now, but when a situation arises in my life, I think about that day. I try to recapture the free feeling and remind myself to not hit the brakes, but instead to just let go and ride it out.

14 comments:

Fritz said...

I love it!! the feeling of freedom is so important and being able to remember it from our childhoods really puts the whole adult thing in perspective! i used to the do the same thing and still question why i did not suffer severe head injuries...

Stacy said...

Amen!

Kyla Roma said...

Love this, I've had the exact same experience before - and trying to let the exhilaration just channel through you instead of hitting the breaks is hard, but I'm trying to work on it too!

nory said...

It can be hard to channel the youthful energy & innocence we had as children when we didn't think about the outcomes but instead of pushing ourselves and moving forward to the next great thing. As adults I know we all stand in our own way, rationally and logically thinking about the next step, the pros/cons and etc. It can be a lot to think about.

But you are right, sometimes we need to go back to one of those moments where we were free & careless and just go with it!

MeLaNiE said...

AHH what happened to those good ole days?? Love this post!

thatShortChick said...

oh man, this brings me back to my childhood instantly.

bike-riding was one of my favorite activities. the best part as you described was pedaling fast as possible and then letting the bike coast down the open roads and allowing the warm, summery breeze blow through my face.

and I was free. and so deliriously happy.

The Alleged Ringleader said...

What a great analogy!

SoMi's Nilsa said...

As I read this post, all the windows in my living room are open. The air is blowing inside. I can close my eyes and imagine your journey. What a great ride, despite leaving a little of yourself behind.

Little Fish said...

"Life is a lot like riding a bike down a steep hill. Sometimes you have do the scary things, face that fear of whatever you may have head on. Take a risk even though you don't know what the outcome will be. Sometimes you even have to let go of the handle bars and just hope you can keep your balance long enough to have those few moments of complete and total freedom." Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I can't tell you how much I needed that reminder right now!

Auburn Kat said...

HAHA! You sound like me when I was a kid!! I was crazy on my bike!!! Now looking back, I would never do some of those things! You are right though, that's what I need to keep doing in my job search...getting back up on that bike!

LiLu said...

Oh, I love this... it's actually just what I needed. I most definitely need to stop hitting the brakes and just let go right now.

amanda said...

hollla.

being a kid, nothing like it.

but even still, i don't think i'd take it back. i like the idea of responsible adult. which makes me just sound lame.

i felt like i was on the bike with you, girl. sitting on the back-arms out-flying down the road-wind in the face.

Bayjb said...

Great metaphor and great story. I totally need to do this more, let go and relinquish some control and just enjoy the ride. SO TRUE!

Andy said...

LOVED this one.

1. I wish I knew how to ride properly a bike. 30% of the time, I'm putting my feet on the ground not to fall down.

2. You gotta take risks to win.