I was marveling in great pleasure at the sight of my youngest daughter finally riding her bicycle independently.
One of my proudest life’s moments was watching her ditch the training wheels and take her first shaky pedal pushes toward wheeled freedom. That was three months ago.
Today, she finally learned to push off herself, smiling her way to autonomy.
It was her idea to take the bike out today—a first time—not needing to be cajoled or bribed. I was expecting a successful session, no tears like all the all previous attempts that dissolved into feelings of defeat on my end, tears on hers. She didn’t love biking, until today.
Things were great until she decided to tackle the uphill crescent shaped driveway. I was all for her self-directed challenge–then something happened. Her first attempt ended with a wobble and collapse. Nothing major. For the second attempt, I spoke to her about momentum, getting up the speed on the flat before making her way up the hill. She wanted to do it her way; not line herself up with time and space. She went from glad to mad in zero to one second.
I realized this had nothing to do with her physical ability. She felt defeated and not good enough–from a place within that had nothing to do with the physics of bike riding basics. I tried to reason with my five year old that she’s got to “show up and suck before she shows up and shines”, a sentiment from one my yoga inspirations, Baron Baptiste.
In her short five years she has already crafted a pretty crappy story:
“I am a baby; I can’t do it.”
These words broke my heart. She continued:
“I suck my thumb. Finley (her big sister) calls me a baby. I can’t ride my bike, I can’t do anything right.”
Read: I can’t break the thumb-sucking, therefore I suck at everything. (no pun intended)
We berate ourselves with self-defeating messages at such a young age.
How would you respond to your five year-old child—or that five year-old still doubting inside yourself—and choose to shine…even if its messy and sucky at first.
Just because you haven’t doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You just haven’t done it…yet, I tell her.
It takes an incredible amount of presence and awareness to get out of the story of what has happened in the past and be okay in the moment of now. Life forces us to face events that we don’t chose, things happen to us that we didn’t (think) we asked for; we get hurt, we lose, people die.
There are sucky things that we experience just by being alive. These events that happen to us is one kind of crap. The second kind of crap is the suckiness that persists because we create a story about the actual event. The difference between the two is the fact that the first one is often unavoidable and the second one is always avoidable.
My favorite thing about riding a bike has always been the freedom I felt as a kid (and still do). We torment ourselves even when we are doing things we love, just like my precious five-year-old. We all have a fresh five-year-old deep inside that wants to live free, but we still berate ourselves even when we are doing things we actually like to do.
If we can’t be free to enjoy those moments, then we are even more screwed when the shit hits the fan and those dark, crappy events strike.
Instead of regarding any event as good or bad, consider the experience just as it is, for what it is.
Perhaps it’s a lesson, a blessing or both. Discard doubt and embrace curiosity in every moment. Moving past the duality of good/bad, fail/success is liberating. Sustainable change requires consistent choice. Every day is a new year. Every minute is an opportunity to start the day over.
Choose your moments wisely, for they make up the life you want…and I hope it’s as free as two wheels coasting downhill.
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Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Jenn Durfey at Flickr