One of my first memories in life occurred when I was about 3 or 4 years old. It was me, completely filled with joy, riding my bicycle by myself for the first time with my family watching and cheering me on. I don’t remember many details about that specific moment, but I do vividly remember being so incredibly happy and proud of myself in that moment.
A few days prior to this shining proud moment, either my mom or my dad (I just can’t remember who), ran over one of my bicycle training wheels with the family minivan. I was devastated. I loved to ride my bicycle all around the neighborhood, doing my best to keep up with my older brothers. But after a quick assessment it was clear the training wheels were damaged beyond repair and had to come off.
If my parents were still living today I would ask them if they remembered this moment in time. Could our family not afford to buy new training wheels at that time? Did they think I was ready to ride without them? How did they know I was ready? Or did they not know, but just pray that it would come to me sooner than later? I will never know how it all transpired, but the twisted training wheels came off and there I was staring at my big girl bicycle.
Me learning how to ride my bicycle was a full family effort. I remember my knees and elbows being all scraped up. I even vaguely remember in one of my post training wheels ride attempts accidentally swerving and putting a nice little dent in my nemesis, the minivan. But I had my helmet on tight and determination in my spirit. And I kept on trying.
After countless failed attempts I was on my bike ready to give it another go. My dad (I believe) helped keep me steady for the first few peddles I took and then let go. And there I was riding my bike. I remember excitement taking over my whole body while I was riding down my street all by myself. I remember my mom, dad and two older brothers watching on and cheering me on. I did it.
How sweet that memory is to me decades later. It is my very first memory in life of conquering a challenge. I didn’t let failed previous attempts or scraped up knees faze me. With my loved ones rooting me on, I accomplished what at the time seemed almost impossible. It was not easy, but the reward was worth the journey.
As I sit here three decades later, I find myself coming back to this memory often as of late. Specifically it was that moment of pure joy of personal achievement, surrounded by those I love that is resonating for me. I’ve been living lately in place of second guessing myself and as I could only describe it as “living small.” I’ve been overanalyzing all the possibilities of what could happen, good and bad, as I stare at “the bike” while it collects dust. I’ve been living as if since my mom and dad are gone, there is no one who cares if I get going on that bike or not.
Life thirty years removed from this moment is infinitely more complicated. But this memory has come as such a gift to me. It is the reminder that no matter the challenge, as long as I take the risk and get on the bicycle without training wheels, I have a chance of succeeding. It will not be easy, but nothing worth it ever was. It is a reminder that I still have a family cheering section, with gained loved ones along the route rooting for me and a newly installed upper deck of stands for fans needing a higher view.
How the journey became twisted, much like the training wheels, is irrelevant at this point. It is what it is. But with prayer as my helmet and determination in my spirit, I will continue to try. I will try to boldly conquer the challenges facing me, with that same courage as 3 or 4 year old me had.
If it’s like riding a bike then I know at least I’ve got a chance.