Do you have a bucket list? For those who may not know, a “bucket list” is composed of the things/events you personally want to experience before kicking the bucket (A.K.A. dying). On Sunday, I fulfilled one of the items on my list, learning how to ride a bike. Growing up, I never had the opportunity to learn how to ride a bike. While everyone around me, including my brothers, seemed to pick up the art of bike riding, I stayed on the sidelines, rationalizing that it was too late, and too embarrassing, to learn how to ride a bike. Eventually, my desire to hop on a bike and fly were tempered by these concerns. For far too long of a time, I was content with keeping my feet firmly planted on the ground.
With my ever increasing objective to make fitness an integral part of my life, I longed to be able to do something outside of the gym, something that would allow me to enjoy bright, breezy days. And thus the call of the bike came back with a vengeance. A quick Google search led me to Bike ride NYC, which to my complete joy offered a free “Learn how to ride a bike” for adults class. After a few minutes of my ego trying to bully me into believing that learning to ride a bike at my age is akin to having the word loser tattooed on my forehead, I clicked on register and did not look back.
The sensation of, first, learning how to balance, then eventually, pedaling without hurting myself or others (couple of close calls but nothing serious) was fantastic! Riding a bike felt better than I had ever imagined! Each pedal stroke felt as if I were delving further into a different plane of existence where it was just me, the pedals, and the breeze, feeling as free as I have ever felt in my life. In the midst of this liberation and joy, I thought of my mother, of the prison of fear she had locked herself in for so many years before and after my birth. Had she ever had the chance to feel as free as I did today? If so, when and what in her let that go? Ironically, it took my feet being above the ground to be able to walk in mothers shoes. Perhaps for the first time, deep in my soul, I felt sorry for the woman whose life was defined by so many limiting, destructive, and negative thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. Afraid to strike out, like so many people (myself included), my mother preferred to stay comfortably numb and holed up in a world that did not honor who she was created to be in this world.
It was out fear and of not knowing any better that mother acted and reacted to me the way that she did so many times. Little doubt exists that the negative and hurtful thoughts and actions that were hurled onto my mother in her childhood formed the foundation of our relationship. Left unchecked and untreated, negativity, hurt, and fear get the opportunity to grow and get be passed down from generation to generation. Not willing to carry on the residue of negativity and fear that consumed mother (and to a lesser extent, my father), I am working like nobody’s business to start from point A, drowning out the lies that have plagued me, hopefully picking up more nuggets of compassion and forgiveness along the way.
Perhaps it is foolish, but I’d like to think that each time I ride a bike, my mother will not be too far behind. I’d like to believe that for a brief moment in time, somehow, my mother is allowed to feel the joy of riding a bike.