Thoughts on Love; or where my heart is today…

I haven’t written on this blog in a while because I’ve always just used it when there was the fire of something to say, a spark. Words that come into my soul that can only come through my fingers. As someone who was once quite slow to think and speak, this way is always how I’ve said what can’t be said.

These past few weeks I’ve been considering love. I’ve been thinking about everything it is and all that it isn’t. It’s haunted me lately. I keep coming back to it and revising and pulling things and adding things. I still can’t quite get it right.

Last week a cycling friend died in his sleep. I say cycling friend because he wasn’t like a normal friend that I’ve had. Maybe other cyclists can attest to this. He was someone I saw often on the road and talked to only occasionally. But when I saw him my heart would smile. When I read the news of his death last week, i was standing at my kitchen counter and I had the sharp realization that I had loved him. I had loved his presence and his presents. I had loved his photographs of the city, I had loved the fact that he was a veteran and that he chose to make his living riding a bike every day. I had loved the light he brought to the world and how he moved through it (usually in loose shorts with bike tights underneath). It was his light that I’d loved, that only ever existed that one time, inside him.

The love that I felt for him doesn’t exist outside of him, it was unique to him. It was a part of his divine spark which isn’t here anymore, except as you can see the echos of it in his work.

A little while later that week, as i was still thinking about that love and longing for a missing light, my friend Harry re-shared that sermon that Bishop Michael Curry did for the royal wedding of Harry and Meghan. I remember him sharing the transcript of it the first time, right after the wedding, because reading those words (and hearing them when I watched him give that sermon), left me with such a longing that I feel the world is groaning with at the moment. That longing to let love be the way. It’s a refrain in that sermon, “when love is the way.” It’s not a short sermon, and there wasn’t an ounce of pretension in it. Instead it is filled with the divine light of Reverend Curry and is delivered in a way that only he could speak those words.

I’ve spent the last few days in a profound state of rest. Not anxiety or depression, but rest. And in the hours I’ve spent here, my mind keeps going back to that love, and how even the way i’ve been looking at love is sort of backwards. I’ve been only considering that it is something I’ve felt, I’ve not considered that I’ve just been acknowledging the soul of someone profoundly and spectacularly human, or that I’ve just been appreciating in a small way the divine spark in a person…a spark that is only here one time and will not come again.

The two above moments made me reconsider this week what love really is. My incredibly singular cycling friend who died, and my friend Harry re-sharing that sermon (Harry has long known that love is the way in case you don’t know that). Re-reading those words on love helped me look at it in a new way. The loss I’ve felt in this past year (and this has been a big year of loss of love) is the loss of something larger than a feeling that I had, it is a deep recognition of the loss of a light in the world.

There’s a poem by Rumi that has resonated with me these past few years. I first heard it recited in a lovely documentary called “I Am,” which my friend Sue recommended. I feel like it speaks to the heart of what I’d like to say, but can’t quite put my finger on:

“What was said to the rose that made it open,

was said to me here in my chest.”

When I say that I love you, I am saying that I recognize the light that has opened you like a flower. It’s been whispered to me, even if I can’t fully know it, and even if I fall all over my own awkwardness to show love. I can see still the light in who you are, and it is brilliant and will only ever exist this one time, inside of you.

I’m dedicating this writing to Harry, my long time friend, who has always chosen the way of love. You are on my heart today friend.

Cocaphony

I woke up at 4:30 this morning, not stressed but rested. I’ve had my windows open since the weather turned, so I awoke in the company of birds coming to life. I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health this week. My own came up as soon as we were sent home and deep panic set in about the possibility of two months in a house, alone. Y’all may have noticed that my brain is faulty. I called my brother and reminded him about my faulty brain (I figured we came from the same gene pool and he’d understand). A few mornings later a friend called in the early morning in a similar panic. I remember the often posted meme about how if you need someone to talk to, you can call me. It was that meme in real life. We chatted for a while. We, neither of us, had magical answers, but in that call we spent time together.

This week I’ve begun taking steps to support my own mental health, but I also stress ate and probably had too much fun on my “wine tour.” Every morning I get up and make my bed. It got me thinking about my mom this morning because when I was a kid, we moved all the time and it felt like a constant state of social distancing. But in every new house, my mom would put the wooden spoon and fork on the kitchen wall. She had a knack for transforming a house to home in just a few hours. She anchored us there by making the unfamiliar seem familiar. So here in the beginning, I am anchoring myself. Make your bed, write a poem, move your body. Since it’s spring open the windows and let in the sound and air. I’m sitting on the porch now, listening to a cacophony, of birds, and rain on the tin porch awning, and I can hear the cars on a distant highway. I got out of bed when the rain started because I realized I was listening to a concert, and that’s what I wanted to be doing this morning.

I am an introvert, or one of those weird combinations of introvert who loves to be in community, but also needs a lot of personal space. But I miss my friends and family. I love how in this week, working from home, I’ve learned new ways to connect that I’d never have used, and would never have wanted. And they’ve managed my fear of “alone.” And for that, I’m grateful.

Bike Love, on the heels of another hit and run…

Wear bright clothes! Use lights! Wear reflective gear! You don’t have enough lights! Look, they’ve made this cool new spray paint for your body and bicycle. Spray paint yourself! Have you tried this cool new backpack/helmet/safety vest that blinds drivers and folds into a one centimeter square?

These are the things people who ride in my community hear on a daily basis. Am I being safe enough? Do I have enough lights? Am I riding the correct streets? Am I doing every possible thing I can think of to make myself safe? Last week I even decided to do some of my rides with loud speaker music blasting from my water cage. I have a great saftety vest with pockets. I wear a bracelet on my wrist with all my information so my daughter will know something happened to me (in the terrible event that it is needed). I ride greenways when possible, well designed bike infrastructure when practical. When it comes to cycling safety, I’ve been educated to within an inch of my life.

And yet I know all these suggestions, links and gear references are thrown at the everyday cycle commuter out of concern about safety. It’s a way of giving bike love.

In the past two weeks, there have been two hit and runs in Charlotte. The first one was hard to read about, but the second one was harder, because some of my cycling and non-cycling friends knew him. Because he was hardly more than a boy. Because it’s difficult to understand that people have lost their humanity to the extent that they’d drive off and allow a human being to die in the street. How does one respond to that?

When I was hit, it was a classic case. The driver took a left hook into me. He viewed me as the gap between cars instead of a human. But once I’d landed on the ground, not only did he stay at the scene, another woman stayed and directed traffic, someone else called 911, and a startled by-stander looked on and commented, “Oh God.” But all those people stood around, waited for the ambulance, made sure I was okay while they waited, and saw me safely into the ambulance. And I’m still here. And so thankful for all the people who stopped, parked their cars and stayed, even to the man who hit me for not leaving the crash he caused. In that sense, I’m not a classic case.

Many pedestrians and cyclists that are hit by cars are just left in the roadway. That’s the classic case of a cycling crash. That you’ll be left behind. That those precious moments of life after the accident will be run through, and that you won’t make it (as has been the case with the last two Charlotte hit and runs involving cyclists). Those seconds matter. They are actually the difference between life and death. In other words, if your insurance premium is more important than a human life, you shouldn’t be driving. If your police record is more important than a human life, you shouldn’t be driving. If you just can’t be bothered to stop because it’s going to put a blip in your day, I’m not sure you should even be allowed in public, and you definitely shouldn’t drive a car.

I’ve said, and will continue to say that it’s up to all of us using the roadways to keep them safe. I can wrap my body in Christmas lights and wear a flashing helmet…spray paint my body and bicycle, slap glow in the dark stickers on everything I own (I have several on the rear of my bicycle), but if you are on your phone, you will not see me. If you only see your moment and yourself as the last person through the already red light and decide to floor it, you will not see me. If you’ve had too much at one of the multitudinous Charlotte breweries, you will not see me.

As cyclists, we need you to see us. As pedestrians, we need you to see us. We’re humans trying to get to where we’re going, just like you. This evening, I came out of the building at Park Road Montessori where my bike was parked next to a friend’s, and someone had taken a moment to cover her bike with pink foam hearts. It was as if the person was covering her bicycle with the love they hoped she’d experience, and that’s how I see every–be safe, have a good ride, stay safe out there. It’s bike love. I’m so sorry for the young man who was hit this week, and to all the people who lost him. He was around my daughter’s age. And because of that, I want you to know that if you drive, you can give bike love too. You can make sure there’s room for you to pass. You can put down your phone. You can make sure you pay attention all the way into your neighborhood, which is where our youngest cyclists are often hit. That’s what bike love is. It’s attention to our roadway community and how you can help us all get home alive.

When I saw my friend’s bike covered in hearts today, I thought of the young man who died…the picture I’ve seen of him with his dog…and the people who lost him. And I thought about my own daughter, who rides her bike sometimes, and that it could be her. I just stood there and looked at it, and thought all those things and hoped, once again, for bike love on our streets.

Life is Good, but also too Short…

I’ve had a peaceful few days of solitude and rest, and processing the past week that I’ve been traveling. At times I wish that time could stand still, but I realized this season how much it doesn’t. I believe the absence of Luke has taught me one of the biggest lessons of my life. He’d been getting steadily worse for over a year now. Mainly in ways I thought I could work out, like he peed on stuff around the house, no matter how much he went out during the day—I could clean up. But lately he became worse in ways I couldn’t manage, like when you suddenly can no longer walk, or your foot just isn’t working like it should. So the vet came, and she helped us wallk him into the great unknown. That evening, when she’d gone out to get the stretcher to take him out of the house, I put my head next to his on his bed. I’ve done this countless times before on the couch when we’ve kept each other company, especially after Madison left. I just put my head next to his, put my hand on his chest and said I love you in the only way I could, which is just to be present. Later I picked him up and carried him to the stretcher. He peed on things one last time. I clipped him in and walked him out. Because I am still here. One friend reminded me, when I said, “nobody is here anymore,” that I am still here. He said, with very few words, and no bullshit, “you are still here.”

This week I saw my brother, sister in law and nephew, who was contempating that he hadn’t seen his extended family in a while.  I saw my beloved sister, with whom I shared a room growing up, and my nieces, who continue to grow like weeds. I saw my Mom and Dad.  Dad is 80. Mom is 71. I tried to be of use to them while I stayed at their home. I admit I sometimes call them whimsical parents, mainly because of how often we moved when we were kids (my mom sited 28 moves during my childhood, when I was visiting).  They did their best I think, and also made some hard mistakes, but none of their mistakes had to do with lack of love. And with that I can be short on memory and long on forgiveness.

To go and visit them, I once again took the Greyhound bus, which is both a magical treat and maybe a little not great. Mostly minorities ride the bus in the South, so I’m one of the few white folks taking the Greyhound. I’m always anxious on the bus, but I always experience such generosity from others while I’m traveling On my way home, I had two really wonderful experiences. During the first I saw an Indian mother make sure her children had seats in the Atanta terminal. I was reading a book and not really paying attention. My bags were in the next seat to keep them from getting in people’s way. After a minute I noticed she was standing, and keeping an eye on her children who were directly behind me, so I began to move my things and I said, “Here, why don’t you sit down.” At that moment, several people around me looked at me like I’d sprouted an extra head. People in the Atlanta Greyhound terminal work hard to protect their personal space. She smiled and thanked me. Then the guy next to her moved over so her husband could come and sit as well. A little while later, the Dad mentioned we should all get in our line, even though it was the bus before ours that was lining up, and I was so glad I listened. The bus was double booked, and while another bus was coming, I was able to get on the first bus and get home earlier than if I’d sat on a chair instead of getting in line. But I got in line next to a whole family of people I’m now almost certain were from Haiti (though I may just be making that assumption). Their youngest, a tiny boy who was perhaps two, and full of all the spirit of anyone who has just learned to walk and is doing it with extreme exuberance, started in on a game of peek-a-boo with me, over the top of my book. I would read a little, then he would come around the side of his father and wait for me to look over the edge of my worn novel (I got it in a used bookstore) and then he would laugh this long, loud belly laugh, which for some reason reminded me of Buddha. Like in my heart I believe Buddha had the spirit of a toddler…just as joyful and unencumbered. After he laughed so loud, I would laugh too, and then he would run around the side of his dad again and the game would begin anew. On his last try before we boarded the bus, he reached up and tried to take my book. And it was exactly as if he was asking me to let go of all my shit and just be real and present. His mom yelled a him for being disrespectful, but my heart swelled at this joyful mischief. It was like I was saying, I am trying to read and disconnect but I will acknowledge that you are terrific, and he was saying, “I am trying to meet you. Why won’t you pay attention?”

I boarded the bus and sat next to a young black man in a hoody. We both watched a movie and listened on headphones. But when we stopped unexpectedly in Duncan, NC to pick up a few passengers that had been left behind, and I asked him if we all needed to get off the bus, he smiled and said, “I think you get to choose. You can stay and rest if you want to.”

I know he was coming from, or going to a mom and dad, just as I was. I don’t know what the situation of the very young child who tried to take my book and spoke French with his mother was, but the confidence and joy with which he conducted himself lead me to believe he was loved. However imperfectly.

On this trip I kept going back to the Third Great Lesson from Maria Montessori.  The subject of our fantastic holiday performance, “Early Humans.” I keep remembering that as humans we share what we have, and love…not just those we know but even the larger community, and that we bury our dead.

I know that seems somewhat, perhaps, depressing, but the truth is we all die.  This morning when I got up, my first though was, “Of course I miss him. He was here for seventeen years.  And now he isn’t.” This past week I tried to help and love as best I could, even if I’m flawed, and probably a bit whimsical myself.  I also understood that we are all growing older, and will not be here nearly long enough. Not if we’re here for fifty years and not if we’re here for a hundred.

But as I saw the tall buildings of Charlotte come onto the horizon, I understood how much I love coming home.  Do you know, this is the longest, by far, I’ve ever lived in one place? Do you know that in Charlotte, I love so many people and love my life so hard that it sometimes makes me cry?  I know I’m sensitive. Do you understand that my life is absolutely good and that I feel cared for by my community? Do you know that in spite of some troubles, my overwhelming feeling is gratitude for this life?  It’s such a good life, it’s just goes so fast, and it’s so short.

With all that, my 2020 resolution isn’t to lose weight or “be best,” or anything giant, it’s to maybe learn to play the cello, because I love the sound of it, and I want to feel those vibrations running through my body. I don’t have any false hopes of being different (i’m already different enough). I don’t need to be “more grateful,” I’m so grateful every day. But I want to go to Howren music, plop down enough to rent a cello, and learn to play.

Homecoming…some words about the climate strike

I haven’t written in a while.  Not here, and not really anywhere.  Sure, every once in a while I’ll try out a haiku, but I recognize that for a while now, I’ve been slacking.  Do I not have the words? Is there a lot on my mind? Writing always happens for me when I recognize I have something to say, and magically I seem to have the ability to put together the words to say that in the exact way that I want to.

I haven’t felt that spark lately.  Sometimes I come home and have a glass of wine or two instead.  Sometimes I’m gripped by the terrible anxiety I think we’re all feeling.  I dream about friends and family and have to call and make sure they’ve not suffered some terrible emergency.  Last night I dreamed that Anna, a teacher I work with, was helping me pick out shoes. And like much that is going on at the moment, that didn’t make sense, except that she does have good taste in shoes.

Last week I reread the book Last Chance to See which was written by famous fiction writer Douglas Adams and his biologist friend, Mark Carwardine.  It chronicled their trip around the world in the 80s to see some of the rarest animals left on earth and also the efforts being made at the time to save them.  Rare in this case meaning not quite extinct, but going that way. The writing in this book always takes my breath away because it does such a wonderful comedic/anthropological job of poking fun at human folly.  The ways in which we continue to not learn our lessons, for instance. I always finish this book feeling entertained, saddened and also a bit out of hope since that was thirty some odd years ago now and what has changed?  Species are going extinct at the rate of 150 to 200 per day. That happens to be a lot faster than was happening during the 80s, so yes, I’m just a bit alarmed about it.


We are alarmed about a lot of things right now.  Different people are alarmed about different things. And yet, and yet…we all have this one thing in common.  That we know of, we have this one home we are all sharing. If you feel you have nothing in common with the people around you, nothing at all….if you feel like a fish out of water.  You do have that one thing in common with everyone. And when it comes down to it, its really the most important thing to everyone on the planet (without which we wouldn’t exist).  

I’m not sure what’s brought us to this great disconnect with reality that I feel humans are experiencing on a giant scale.  What has brought us to thinking our waters can take whatever we care to dump into them and still retain life? What has brought us to think that our air can suck up all the exhaust of all the many transportational machines we’ve got moving us hither and yon, and still support life?  What has brought us to think that the earth itself can suck up any manner of poison that we’ll carelessly dump and still support life?

I’ve been riding Little Sugar Creek Greenway in Charlotte NC daily for the past six years. I’ve ridden past paint spills, I’ve ridden after floods when all the garbage washes up onto the bridges and and sidewalks so that you end up riding an obstacle course. I’ve ridden when there was a rainbow sheen of oil floating across the water. It’s my daily “drive” so I notice. I noticed that evening in December a few years back when someone leaked a massive amount of diesel into the creek and the smell as I rode home was sickening. I noticed when for months after when nothing could really live there. And i noticed as life started trickling back. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, seeing life back in the creek, but I’m not naive enough to think that dumping doesn’t still happen down there. A few weeks ago the water was cloudy again, and I saw that rainbow sheen, and I felt helpless.

There are days I absolutely wonder how we survived this long.  A few years ago I took my daughter on a road trip across northern Illinois to see my hometown.  It’s a visit that still sticks with me when I remember it. We came across the bridge that crosses the Fox River in Ottowa Illinois and separates the South Side from the North side.  We came up next to the square, we passed my grade school. As soon as we crossed the bridge I started sobbing. I hadn’t really been home since the age of ten, not there, to my hometown.  When I was little we wandered the town on our own. We walked to the library and to school and rode bikes to the quarry where the boys would do jumps and I would look on in worry. In the summer, my mom would take us to the square, and for at least a few years we’d get on a bus and go out to Starved Rock, to participate in a Nature Camp.  We walked those woods and checked out every indigineous plant that was pointed out. We bird watched and listened to short lectures, and once we tie dyed shirts by the river. I went to a lot of camps over the years but that was the best one. It taught me to recognize my home. When I went home a few years ago, I was stunned at my reaction to being back in my homeland (it was like a child finding it’s mother after being lost), and I wondered about humans.  Were we meant to be indigineous? That’s what it felt like going home, even though I haven’t called that home in 40 years. That I was indigineous to that place and had just been lost.

When I think about the Great Climate Strike tomorrow, I think about my hometown of Ottowa, and of coming home and realizing that square, that school, that quarry, that library, those streets, and the map in my brain I could remember after all of these years…that home was loved by me.  I realized how important it is to our human nature to belong to a place…to love it with our feet and our toil. And I realized all that is lost when you distance yourself, when you disconnect, from that homeland.

We have already lost so much.  200 species per day…some of them trees, some of them birds, some of them tiny bugs we’ll never see or care about.  We’ve lost the Northern White Rhino, which was one of the featured “rare” animals of Last Chance to See. I keep wondering when it will occur to us as humans, that we are a species in the middle of a mass extinction.

Tomorrow is the climate strike and I’ll be there.  I’ve come home.

Stay Weird: The Magic of Not Belonging…

At 19 getting on an army bus…

Last night was the fourth. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, since I’m currently struggling to get excited about our country that’s occasionally so divided up into segments of population all shouting out a host of opinions. I sat on the porch watching the wind walk up the street during the thunderstorm, listening to that rolling boom that has nothing to do with pyrotechnics. I read some, and then I started watching TV. As it was I thought I was in for the night.

Then I heard the explosions starting, from what seemed to be a ridiculously close distance–say, next door. I wasn’t sure what our new neighbor might have gotten up to because I came home yesterday evening to her daughter throwing flaming batons in their front yard. I decided to investigate. As the booms increased in frequency and volume, I decided I didn’t want to miss one second of whatever was happening, so I ran across the house to get my shoes and slammed the door on the way out. I got to the street and looked down towards the park where it seemed like all the black people in our neighborhood (and maybe beyond), had gathered for a very large celebration. There were fireworks going off on the street, in the park, and from somewhere behind the new apartment buildings. There was a DJ. There were people of every age, some of whom I recognized from having lived here in Cherry for the past 11 years. A young man let off a mighty box of fireworks and brought the empty box back to the car that was next to the garbage can on which I was leaning. As he passed, i said, “Was that last one yours?” He looked at me with a smile, “Yes.” “It was terrific.”

I forgot to mention that on my way down to the park, a young white mother had come out with her six year old daughter to also admire the fireworks, but when a black woman in a sparkly dress got out of a car at the corner, clearly dropped off late to this party, the mother quickly gathered her daughter and turned around. Which was disappointing, since we’d just had a conversation while walking down the block about the fact that maybe her daughter would see this as the “real fireworks” and then the hassle of a car trip into uptown might be avoided.

It should be understood at this point that I certainly didn’t bust up into the party and make myself known. I quietly leaned against the side of a trash can with my glass of wine, and helped open it twice when people needed to throw things away (including the talented young explosives expert I’d just complimented). This is how I am in all situations. I quietly take stock, often from the edges of civilization. In new situations, I’m always a shrinking violet though to people I know, I’m certainly not shy.

The other day, someone asked me again where I’m from. The truth is I hardly have an answer to that question. I was born in one place and raised in a host of disparate houses, states and schools. I was always on the edge, looking in. There was never a time before the last fifteen years, that I was not the outsider in any situation. Its the reason I now cling so desperately to the communities I’ve found here in Charlotte, but I was thinking this morning it’s the very heart of myself, the weird outsider, the strange minority. I spent my life there, in new schools and new towns. i often watched life unfold from the sidelines of each new place, looking for the similar thread between my humanity and another’s. Not understanding our system of segregation in various parts of the country, searching for ways to experience belonging and sameness–basically with whomever would have me.

In my life I’ve often been the only white person for miles, and I’ve often been the only woman on a team. Over time I just became comfortable with the idea that I will sometimes be uncomfortable. I will sometimes be new, and I will not always know what to say or do. That’s what I learned from years of crying in the back corner of the classroom, or being the only person at school on Halloween without a costume, or moving to a new place where the dialect is different enough that it feels like learning a new language, or living in another country, where the language spoken is my second language, and i do not look like anyone else.

There was the time of being seperated from my then fiance in Seoul, who was hard to find because he was short with straight black hair in a sea of people who looked just the same as him. There was that time on Team Spirit where necessity meant that I needed to be part of communal bathing in the town where we were stationed. I’ve moved a hundred times in my life and observed all manner of community from the outside, trying to see in what ways we were the same and how I could best reconcile myself to “belong” wherever I was.

It means I often don’t have the same experience of fear as people I know. New or different does not equate to dangerous. When I walked down the street last night, I guess I experienced something very different than the mother from across the street. I saw a bunch of people (a few of whom I know, but most of whom I don’t), having a party, which happens every day, all over the world, but which especially happens in the summer in the US, and isn’t a reason to fear. But she saw something different, and turned around at the sight of the sequinned lady getting out of the car. It was a moment where I realized that perspective is everything. One moment we were having a conversation and the next she was walking her child back home.

Meanwhile I just stood leaning on the garbage can on the sidewalk, watching human beings behave like human beings. I did what I always do, which is to find the common thread of humanity we might have, and teather myself to it whenever I feel uncomfortable, whenever I’m existing on the fringes. Truly it’s that very thread that has always helped guide me home.

The Art and Struggle of Learning to Ride…

I’ve recently started giving private bike riding lessons, sometimes starting from scratch, and sometimes working mainly on safety training. This morning i was starting from scratch in Independence Park with a brand new bike and boy who hadn’t yet learned to ride. I’ve done this a few times now, with various degrees of success. Sometimes a person is so ready it just comes naturally, and sometimes it takes a little time to get things going.

Through this process I continue to learn lessons about children, humans and how we learn (as opposed to how we’d prefer to learn). With my perverse sense of always wanting things to be easy and go smoothly, i sometimes feel that watching someone learn to ride bares a pretty decent resemblance to how I learn lessons, and sometimes have to learn the same lessons again.

I think I should say this now. I experience great excitement in vicariously learning to ride a bike again and again. Seeing that face when a child has learned to combine balance and pedaling…it’s a really good feeling. It sends joy sparkling through my entire being to watch someone’s smile when they are flying down the sidewalk and they’ve realized they’ve made their own bike go. It’s one of the most unique feelings of freedom that exists, wheeling around on a bicycle.

Today I got to watch a young person work so hard (we were both sweating). He tried again and again, amongst many failed attempts and a few falls. I’ve learned from experience when a little, well placed advice is called for and when to stay quiet and allow focus to happen. And also when to squelch my joyous enthusiasm as there’s nothing more detrimental to focus that a poorly placed, “OMG YOU’RE DOING IT!” In my moments of keeping myself restrained, and managing my own behavior I began to have a conversation with myself about struggle and how struggle and failure get such a bad name in our current world.

This morning in the park I was considering my own relationship with struggle. Struggle is such a natural ingredient of bike riding. You simply can’t learn without struggling to do it. Its kind of the same thing as learning to walk. If you’ve ever watched that process in a little person, it’s excruciating and takes such a long time, from pulling up, to balancing for a few seconds, to sliding along furniture one handed, letting go of the brace for the first time, and finally taking those first few wobbly steps. It’s the same struggle learning to bike. There’s no way around that hard work and difficulty. Today I mentioned, “Your body is learning to do a new movement, it’s learning how to balance, lean a little and turn (we were practicing turning). Right now your body is figuring out how much to lean and how much to turn the handlebars.” He replied with a smile, “I wish my body would hurry up.”

I think we all wish that about ourselves throughout life. I wish I could just get past this struggle. I wish this was easier. Why does this take so long. Why do I keep having to learn this? I’ve learned over time, I think sometimes from watching people learn how to ride bikes, that we are all just living here on this planet, learning to be human. We come to each new stage of the came so unprepared for the next part. We get this new bit of life and have to learn a brand new skill and we’re like babies learning how to walk all over again.

I’ve learned you can’t push someone into learning faster, you can’t force it, you can’t rush it. The body goes through the practice for as long as it needs to and it happens when it happens. All that body needs is some time, and, in the best circumstances, for someone to bear witness and be patient. Today I got to see the exact moment of transition from, okay I can sometimes get this bike going but it’s still sort of accidental, to a body realizing without thought or pressure that it knows the movement, that it knows how to fly. If you watch someone on a bicycle you realize what a balancing act a body is doing to make everything go and turn and keep from falling. It’s kind of a miracle.

Anyway, enough. Just know that whatever bicycle you’re learning to ride today, give yourself time and call on the patient people in your life to let you know you’re getting there and to just keep trying.