Monday, February 04, 2013

It Is All About The Bike

The past thirteen months have been crammed full of challenges and victories that I could not even have imagined . This time last year, I had just learned to walk again and spent a lot of my time practicing putting one foot in front of the other. Today, I still have balance issues which affect my ability to do many things. There are times this has caused deep depression, feelings of being less than who I was and often times wondering who I am in in this new situation. Last August I tried to ride a bike. I couldn't do it and that started a seemingly out of control emotional tailspin and since then, every time I would see someone on a bike, I would feel jealous and a little angry. I often miss the days when I took things like that for granted.

In October and November, I managed to do a bit of hiking in Zion, Bryce, Arches and the Grand Canyon. I was terrified. What if I fell? What if I broke something? What if I had a panic attack? It's one thing to try something at home or the gym in a safe environment where if something goes awry it is no that big of a deal. In the middle of a canyon, there is no such luxury as giving up or failing. And I will be the first to admit, I do often give up as it is sometimes just so much easier than the knowledge of failure.

I am trying more and more to jump the hurdles of fear and attack what scares me head-on. I don't always try as I could or succeed as I would like, but I do keep the list in my head and every once in a while, just bite the bullet and do it. Yesterday was one such day.

I have been wanting to ride a bike again for a long time, but my balance and coordination just would not work with me. And then there is the fear of crashing or getting hurt, but ore than that, there was the fear of failure. I was in Huntington Beach yesterday for a Super Bowl get-together at a friend's house and decided it was time to get back on the bike. It was a bit of a challenge to get my leg over the bar without falling. Balance on one foot is more unreliable than not, but I managed to straddle the bike. Then the panicky voices started. What if I fell? What if someone sees? Getting myself to push off and start peddling was more intense than bungee jumping. I was never that scared or nervous when jumping out of a balloon or off a crane. That was excitement. Being on the bike was terror.

But, I did it. I pushed off and started peddling. I wobbled a bit but didn't fall. I didn't go far, just a few dozen feet and then turned back. Then I went around the block. Again, I wobbled and almost fell, but kept going. I went over a speed bump and almost crashed, but I didn't. Then I went across the street to the bike trail along the beach. The Super Bowl was on and I figured I would have the trail pretty much to myself which turned out to be the case. Again, getting on the bike and pushing off was daunting, but again, I did it and managed to ride for fifteen or twenty minutes. I had a few close calls, but I did it.

In many ways, it has been a difficult few months, and I really needed that victory. It feels amazing and later today, I am going for a longer ride down the beach. I know I might fall, but now, I really don't care. More and more, I understand the meaning of “the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”

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