“Just slow it down enough to enjoy the ride.” — Julian Casablancas
I barely made it with my “one blog a month” promise, but here we are just in time. To say the last few months have been a struggle is an understatement, but what matters is that I showed up to fulfill the promises I made to myself. I have one huge update to share that will probably sound underwhelming for most, but it’s an exciting accomplishment for me. Last month, I learned how to do something new. Something that most people probably take for granted.
When I was a kid, I remember riding my bike with training wheels and thinking there was no reason why I couldn’t take them off and ride off into the sunset. I don’t know where the thought sprouted from or why I thought it’d be so easy…maybe because the training wheels made it so effortless? I remember going to my dad to ask him to do it and thinking it’d be a piece of cake. Well, there was no cake. And, in fact, I don’t remember anything after sitting on the bike and rolling rapidly down the driveway. The screen went black for me in that moment and over the years I’ve repressed it enough that there’s no chance of digging those memories up.
After that moment, I thought I’d never learn. I thought it would just be something I couldn’t do that made sense to all the other kids. I somehow learned how to swim, play other sports, and do other things. But the bike was like a source of trauma for me. It was always this big red sign that felt like danger was ahead.
Throughout the years, I never got on a bike. There was no chance of me even sitting on the seat and attempting to balance because I just kept seeing black. There was no ending in my mind. It’s like the movie completely stopped and we didn’t get to see the ending credits.
High school never demanded the need to learn. I didn’t live close enough to school that I could ride a bike there; I didn’t even have a bike. I didn’t have friends that wanted to ride bikes on the weekend. It worked out in my favor to forget about it and repress it more. When it was time to start looking at colleges and applying, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. And college campuses are known to be great places for bike riding, but my campus was fairly small. I still don’t need to know how to ride a bike. At least, that’s what I told myself.
When my aunt and uncle were visiting us one summer—the summer before I started college—we visited the campus. I remember my uncle pointing out the bike racks and saying I could ride my bike from class to class. 😬 No comment…I stayed silent and released a nervous laugh. He didn’t know I never learned, but my parents made sure to spill the beans when we got back to the house.
“It’s such a beautiful campus. She can ride her bike to class,” my uncle said.
“Too bad she doesn’t know how to ride one.”
It was embarrassing to say the least. It was always that way when someone brought it up mostly because I truly believed I’d never learn. I graduated college never learning how to ride. When I went on to get my Master’s Degree, I started dating Cory. Fun fact about him: he loves riding bikes and everything about BMX. 🤪
I couldn’t keep it a secret for long that I didn’t know how, and when he found out, he was determined to teach me (thankfully he’s patient). There were very few attempts where I tried to learn how to balance on his BMX bike, but it was so low to the ground and had a firm seat that made it difficult. When I graduated with my MA, he decided to buy me a bike as a gift and printed out a picture of a bike with “+ Free Lessons” on it. I couldn’t help but smile—it was cute. I was also deeply questioning how it could have been a gift because a bike always felt like a curse to me. I was still terrified and pretty certain it just wouldn’t happen.
A couple years passed with me trying to learn how to balance (there were no training wheels this time around 🙃). It always ended in frustration and me feeling like I never made any progress because the progress would have been learning to ride. There weren’t too many steps to take.
My youngest sister came over to our house one weekend and she wanted to ride the many contraptions Cory had in our garage (several bikes, a trike, skateboards, and the list goes on). We practiced riding, and I had tried my best to be more open-minded and a little more realistic. I still struggled, but I felt like I was gaining a little bit of confidence back.
Another weekend, she came over again. We started having fun spending time out front and in the cul-de-sac messing around. And then it happened. Cory had told me to look straight and to stop looking down at the handlebars. I hadn’t even realized I was doing that. He went inside to grab something, I took a deep breath, pushed off, and all the sudden I was doing it. I was in such disbelief, and he missed the first moment I actually started riding. I thought it was hilarious.
When he came back outside, he saw me riding and it meant everything to see the smile on his face. It made me feel so accomplished, and it also gave me this deeper appreciation for a lot of other things in my life. It made me realize that enjoying the journey and the process is so much more important than focusing on the end result.
We’ve started riding our bikes throughout the week. It’s felt good to get fresh air and do something other than being stuck inside, sitting on the couch, and sifting through streaming services to find something to watch. It’s felt good to feel good. And it’s been a saving grace for me, especially on those days that have just felt so much heavier than others.
The world is tired right now. We need to celebrate these little joys and wins. We need to focus on the positive moments and the things that recharge us. They’re all we’ve got right now, so let’s enjoy the ride.