I don’t remember learning how to ride a bike, but I do remember the freedom that it brought as I could explore my neighborhood in ways that I had not been able to do as a little kid on foot.
I have seen video after video of dads holding onto the back of a bicycle – briskly walking or slowly jogging – as his little girl attempts to find balance on the new bike. I have a feeling that my dad and I went through the same ritual. It’s a ritual that many parents do with their children. They nervously help their excited kid learn how to do some thing new. They want their kid to be able to do it, and at the same time, they worry that they will fall. Then, somehow, the kid finds balance and takes off. I’m not sure who is more proud when the kid takes off – the parent or the child.
All I know is that as we learned how to ride a bike, we probably all had fear and excitement bundled up into one cluster of emotions. The excitement always outweighed the fear. That’s how we all learned to ride bikes. The little kid is willing to be wobbly, is willing to fall and scrape a knee, is willing to look silly, because the accomplishment of learning something new, and the excitement of the freedom that come with the bike, is far greater than any of those concerns.
As adults, I don’t know when we allow the fear to take over the excitement. I know for me in particular, trying something new is scary. Falling, looking silly or stupid, and not being good at some thing prevents me from trying new things, or I try them once and don’t do them again because I am not good at it. Truth-be-told, I am not an athlete. I love sports, and I LOVE the outdoors, but I am not a “natural”. There is a 0% chance that I am going to be good at something new right out-the-gate. It takes practice for me to be good at anything, and it takes A LOT of practice.
Four years ago, I got on a paddleboard with some friends. The only thing I remember from the experience is how happy they were. I had so much fun seeing them have fun, but I had no interest in getting on the paddleboard again. I was terrible. I was a newbie. I was wobbly and shaky, and I just knew that would fall into the water. I didn’t fall, and I didn’t get back on the board again.
This past week I decided that I was not going to let the fear win again. I decided to get on the paddleboard every day, because in time, maybe I could learn a new sport. This would require carving out time in my schedule, and it would require me doing something even if there were other things that I wanted to do with my time. It would require falling in every direction. (Last week, I fell to either side, and I somehow even fell straight on my back.) It required getting out on the water even when it looked wavy and rough (no excuses). It required the same skill as learning how to ride a bike, which means getting back on even when you fall. As an adult, it required saying, “I’m not going to be good, and I’m going to do it anyway.”
I have many friends who love paddling. I have many friends who got on the board the first time and loved it. I have many friends who paddle along with no fear. I am not those friends. I am wobbly, shaky, not graceful, and I fall. I also don’t love it…yet, but as the week progressed, I got better, and by Sunday, I could paddle.
I am grateful for friends like Kristin and Julia who got out on the water with me last week. (Thank you ladies for the pictures.) I am grateful for a supportive guy who was actually proud of me for getting on the water (and he didn’t mind that all the chores didn’t get done.) I am grateful that my mother-in-law bought us a board even though we weren’t committed to using it. Her generosity always amazes me. However, with all this gratitude, I still have one regret. I wish I could go back 4 years ago and paddle more often with those friends. I wish I would have tried a little harder.
If you are wondering if you should try that new skill, that new sport, that new creative venture, that new business idea, I say GO FOR IT. Don’t look back and wish you would have tried a little harder.