You can do it! Mother and Daddy cheered as I sat nervously on the white banana seat attached to my shiny new bicycle. The bike and I were propped against a pine tree. The palms of my hands were sweaty and my heart was pounding like a drum in my chest. I surveyed the distance from the pine tree where I was to the pine tree where I wanted to be and sighed.
Mother, Daddy and my sister Denise stood cheering me on between the two trees.
I looked down again to make sure that Daddy had taken off the training wheels. Yep! I said to myself. Theyre gone! I took a deep breath as time seemed to stand still. I pushed off from the tree and proceeded forward with the wheels and handlebars of my bike wobbling along with my pride. Scared to look down, I headed for my goal!
About half way to the other tree, I lost focus and the bike fell over -- taking me with it. I laid there with my eyes closed tightly thinking that as long as I didnt open them, I wouldnt have to face my family, who now stood above me. Are you all right, Mark? they asked in unison.
All I wanted was to get my daddy to put the training wheels back on. I had no problem riding with their help. Why should I mess with something that was already working?
I hate this! I screamed, embarrassed from the fall. I started to run away but Daddys strong arms grabbed me. You get right back on that bike, son! You CAN do this!
Back to the pine tree I went, gathering my pride and dusting off my pants. Still unsteady, I put one leg over the bike while Daddy held it. I reached for the tree and hugged it for support. Even thought its bark was rough, it felt like a soft pillow to me. I made sure I was comfortable in the seat.
Daddy started to let go and walk away. No, not yet! I pleaded. Youre fine! Just use your pedals the same way you are used to doing with the training wheels.
I took in a very deep breath, said goodbye to the tree and started to pedal. Before I knew it, I was at the other tree. My family cheered! My pride swelled! A smile came to my face! At that moment, I felt as though I could do anything.
Most of us have all been in this situation ourselves and with our children and our grandchildren. The bicycles and the trees were different, but the process of overcoming a challenge was exactly the same. Finding our balance without help is tough. But with practice, we get better and better.
I regularly take a spin class for exercise in which you ride a stationary bicycle through vigorous sets of challenges. One challenge is to stand upright, let go of the handlebars, and pedal. It sounds easy enough, but in reality it is extremely difficult -- albeit a great workout for your quads, calves and glutes.
Over years and years of taking this spin class, Ive pretty much mastered this challenge. The other day as I was in middle of doing this, my mind went back to when I first learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. I smiled again. I an now 52 years old and totally balanced on my spin bike with no hands. Had Daddy not forced me to pick myself up and keep trying until I accomplished my goal all those years ago, I wouldnt be doing this now.
With a new year on the horizon, Ive been thinking a lot recently about charging forward and tackling goals without fear or doubt. As we get older, we realize that each day is a gift and we need to seize the moment to accept any challenges that lie in front of us; to refuse to allow self-doubt to hinder us from trying something new or to limit any possibilities that come our way.
It is only when we have the courage to go forward that we find out what lies ahead. We can all sit back and say, what if I had or if I had only, all day long. But if we listen to our hearts and grasp without fear whatever opportunity presents itself, we will discover things we are capable of that we never dreamed possible.
It has been said we should all do something each day that scares us. So, as I go into this new year, Im going to make it a point to do just that. We should never allow fear to control us. My memory of that small scared little boy on his first attempt to ride his bike without training wheels taught me a great lesson then and now. When you follow your heart and put your mind into something, great things can happen. But if youre too scared to try, youll never succeed.
I came across this quote recently and it really spoke to me. Im not sure who said it, but it is timely as we cross the bridge from 2012 to 2013:
Its impossible, said pride. Its risky, said experience. Its pointless, said reason. Give it a try, whispered the heart.
This year Im listening to my heart. I hope you will, too. Happy new year!
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