I believe in childhood adventures, because I believe they make all the difference. Everyone has a story about a moment in their childhood that seemed to make everything else possible; whether it was a monumental day or just another walk in the park. The earliest memories are sometimes the ones that matter the most.
As for me, that day was when I first learned how to ride a bike. The bike I did have could hardly be called a bike at all, with its dark, rusty red paint and handlebars stretching farther then I could reach, and to top it off, most of the time it didn’t even move. We called it the ‘exercise bike’ because in some ways, it was just that. The training wheels were so large and lopsided they prevented all the wheels from touching the ground at the same time. But on that day, everything changed.
“Don’t Let Go!” I yelled the usual terrified phrase behind me as my mom gave the bike seat a push. “I’m Not Letting Go, Steer Straight! I SAID STRAIGHT!” my mom called out in answer to my terrified scream, as she held onto the back of the seat of the two-wheeler while pushing me through the grass of our back yard. Just as I was getting the hang of steering the awkward contraption, I felt my mom’s hands leave the back of the bike, and panicked. In that moment of sheer, unstoppable terror, I forgot everything my mother had told me beforehand, and unintentionally headed straight for the large pear tree in the corner of the yard. The next thing I know, I’m clinging to the lowest branch while the pedals on my bike are still spinning as the whole apparatus lies on its side directly beneath me. I could hear my mom running toward me, laughing.
Not only did I learn to ride a bike that day, but also that it’s not always about the goal that matters the most, but how you achieve it. More often then not, we are left with a scrape on our pride or a gash in our dignity, and it is the ways in which these wounds heal that dictates how we walk away from the experience. Sometimes we have to fall over a couple of times in order to truly feel accomplished with the results, or to get where we want in life. The same holds true for every adventure we, as children, embark on.
Overall, it’s important to remember that these seemingly insignificant childhood adventures are the ones that teach us the most essential lessons of life; about dreaming big and never giving up. Sometimes we need to realize that life does have a sense of humor, why else would I have learned to ride a bike after first running straight into a tree? We cannot simply give up, we need to learn to laugh at the situation and move on. Get up. Get back on. And Go.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.