I’ve started riding my bike again! But wouldn’t you know, the second time out, I took a bad fall.
Picture a smallish white-haired old woman with a pink hat riding a lavender bike. The wind blew her hat off and she automatically cast her hand out to catch it. She might have gotten away with that, but unfortunately, she attempted to use both hands to put the hat back on her head, without stopping her bicycle. Arms and legs going every-which-way, hair on end, bicycle out of control. It had to be a hilarious sight. I laugh now every time I remember.
And yes, it ended with the bike and I hitting the rough road hard. I was stunned and panicky for a number of minutes, especially since one foot was wedged in the front wheel spokes. Thankfully two kind walkers, whom I had just met, stopped to give their support. All three of us were surprised to find me and the bike were without serious injury, in fact next to none. I got on again and rode home with a grateful heart and lesson learned: if the hat flies away while moving, let it.
This tumble reminded me of being a child, the summer I was nine years old and rode my bicycle constantly. We lived on the North Carolina coast at a time when great swathes of land were being turned into modern housing developments. Miles and miles of sandy-dirt roads were cut through the pines and scrub oaks. While I did ride with other children, I very often took off on my own, enjoying flying over the dirt road, the wind caressing my face, ponytail swaying, skin nut-brown from the sun, alone with my imagination and dreams for hours on end. I was even then writing stories in my mind. My bike a horse and me a cowgirl riding the range.
That summer I enjoyed riding my bike up to the Seven-11, where I purchased a watermelon for 25 cents and proudly brought it home, walking it on the seat of my bicycle. Did I even worry that I could do that? Somehow I balanced it on the seat.
That summer I also had a bad fall on a rough road near the Seven-11. I walked home sobbing, too injured to ride. Both knees were shredded and bloodied. I screamed and cried and wouldn’t let my mother wash the wounds, as a result there remains the souvenir of black tar in the scars to this day.
Yet, eventually, the lure of the bike riding returned and remains still, a fact about myself I had not realized until I wrote it just now.
I’m made to see that had I not gotten back on the bicycle after each of those wrecks, I would have missed the wonderful time I enjoyed just this morning, riding several miles with a neighbor, seeing the beauty of the sunlight on trees, the coolness in the shade, feeling the wind and catching the scents of gardenias and honeysuckle.
Life is quite like riding a bicycle. It’s moving forward and sometimes wobbling and sometimes falling, sometimes hard, hard knocks requiring a rest. But then we must get back up and go on, to learn and create, to move forward just a bit wiser, larger, stronger.
When life knocks you to your knees, and it will, why, get up! If it knocks you to your knees again, as it will, well, isn’t that the best position from which to pray?~ Ethel Barrymore