Do you remember the first time you rode a bike without training wheels? Maybe your dad or mom pushed you down the road promising not to let go until you were ready. You never thought you were ready, but they let go anyway. And maybe you rode off into the sunshine and never looked back. Or maybe, like many, you fell down. And then you had to decide what to do next. Maybe you hopped right back on and tried again. Maybe it took you weeks to build the trust to try again. Maybe thinking of riding a bike still makes your breath shallow and your heart pound. How often in life are we are faced with that moment of release? We are faced with the moment of surrender, uncertain of whether sunshine or bumps and bruises await.
Honestly, that release, that surrender, it’s torture to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love a ride off into the sunshine story as much as the next girl. But the bumps and bruises, those I avoid at all costs, even if that means no riding into the sunshine.
But I’m starting to miss the sunshine. I’m beginning to toy with the idea that maybe the bumps and bruises of life are necessary. That learning to release, to both the bad and good, is important to a full and abundant life.
Today, in the smoldering heat, we took the kids out to ride their bikes. Our oldest, 15, rode around easily, giving high fives along the way. She did however protest loudly when my husband suggested “no hands”, proclaiming “That’s just stupid.” My husband put training wheels back on our youngest’s bike, causing him to show off by giving me a high five as he rode by. My middle is just learning to ride independently. Unfortunately, she has also begun to outgrow her bike. Her legs awkwardly move the pedals as she tries desperately to keep her balance. I decided that maybe she should try her older sister’s bike because I could tell if the pedals were the right size, she would ride smoothly. But it was too big. She fell as she tried to climb on.
I began to wonder if there is a sweet spot to that release, to the surrenders we need to make in life. If our metaphorical bike is too small, does it cause us to awkwardly pedal our legs and slow us down? And if it’s too big and we can’t reach those pedals, does it cause us to fall right off? But when that metaphorical bike is just the right size, maybe, just maybe, we can pedal off into the sunshine, building strength in our bodies along the way.
Am I clinging to a bike that’s too small? Or trying to conquer riding a bike too big for my short legs? Do I need to grow, building strength before I can ride at all? How can I find that sweet spot?
Lately I’m feeling drawn to write more, to learn to ignore the nagging thoughts that all of my ideas have been thought before, that sharing them is silly. It’s so scary to think about letting go of my need to only share my writing if it’s neat and tidy, unlikely to cause any waves. To be willing to risk saying something I regret, to be wrong, to make amends, to live into the messy places.
But I miss that sunshine. Oh, how I miss the warmth of the sunshine. And so, I need to take more risks, share more thoughts. I know I’m likely to fall down a few times. But like my husband told my daughter today, the most important part is to get back up and try again.
What about you? Have you been too afraid to get back on the bike? Is there something you are afraid to surrender to now? Are you willing to join me in risking the bumps and bruises to experience the sunshine?