Thursday, September 24, 2009

bicycles

When I was a kid, I would bug my parents to get me a bicycle. I really don’t know why I wanted a bike. All I know is it seemed like the right thing to want. All the kids in the neighborhood had a bike. All the kids on TV had a bike. I wanted one too.

My dad was excited. You see, I wasn’t a very athletic kid. I could stand about twenty minutes of Cops and Robbers but that’s basically it. I would retreat back to my room, gasping for air and sweating like a pig.

He bought me a really nice bike for my birthday. It had a red seat, a horn and multi-colored wheels. For weeks, I rode tirelessly. I liked the freedom I got from riding around the village. I couldn’t really go that fast because I still had my training wheels on but back then, I felt I was Evel Knievel. I would perform tricks in front of an imaginary audience. I would fearlessly evade big rocks and pieces of dog shit. I would ride downhill with my eyes closed. Look Pa! No hands!

Then one day, my dad said it was time to take the training wheels off. I was so scared. I didn’t want him to do that. I started crying and in between sobs, I told him to leave my bike alone. He sat me down and told me he would teach me how to ride a bike properly. I watched as he took his toolbox from the garage. He told me that while the training wheels made the bike safe, it also held me back. He asked if I wanted anything to hold me back. Knowing it was more of a rhetorical question, I bit my tongue. I wanted to tell him that I didn’t mind my slow bike. I just didn’t want to get hurt.

When he finished removing the training wheels, he called for me to begin our first lesson. He was at the garage with my (suddenly scary) bike and told me to sit down. Reluctantly, I did and he told me to ride slow. I could feel his hand on my shoulder so I wasn’t that scared. After a few times, I finally let him let me go. I was riding without my training wheels and without my father’s hand. I felt so free when suddenly, BLAGAG!!!

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!! Araaaaaayyyyyyyyy!!!” I cried. My father came running. I had a big wound on my right knee. I was almost certain that I broke my leg. The bike was too heavy. The weight pressed down on me like a mother-effing bitch. I was crying and howling.

“Why did you let go?” I accused. My dad scooped me off the floor. He told me to be a man and try again.

Knowing how much pain it caused me the first time, I swore I would never ride my bike again. I didn’t want to risk getting hurt again. I stormed into the house and went straight to my mom. A couple of times, my dad tried to convince me to try again but even back then, I was pretty hard-headed. I didn’t want to try again and so I never learned.

Now, whenever people ask me why I never learned how to ride a bike, I would give different reasons. Sometimes I would tell them it was because I was very sickly as a child. Sometimes I would say my parents never bought me one. I didn’t want to tell them that it was fear that prevented me from learning.

My beautiful bicycle, abandoned, started to rust. When we moved out of the house I grew up in, I saw it in the backyard looking sad and old. Poor thing, I thought to myself. It’s not its fault it went to a wimpy kid like me.

I realize now that my fear, although not completely unfounded, was very irrational. Yes, my fall really hurt but I shouldn’t have let it stop me. If I really persisted, I’m sure I would’ve gotten the hang of it eventually. Now, I’m twenty-three and I cannot ride a bicycle. Don’t you think that’s a little depressing? Although riding a bike isn’t something you would normally put in your résumé, it would’ve been nice to know that if a bicycle-related emergency should ever present itself, I would know what to do.

Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be if I had learned how to ride a bike properly. It’s too late now so all I can get from this situation are lessons. What I learned is we should never let fear stand in the way of anything. Everything worth pursuing has a possibility to hurt you. Why else would you want it, right? If you fall and get hurt, just dust off the rubble and try again.

Tonight, as I finish writing this post, I wonder if I still have any bicycles left in my life. If so, I want to ride them sans training wheels and with the enthusiasm of an eight year old who just discovered the simple joys of riding a bike.

♫ It’s up to us to choose whether we win or lose and I choose to win. ♫


Mary J. Blige
No More Drama
No More Drama


31 comments:

  1. I was smiling as I read this post, Nyl. And also a little sad that you never learned to ride.

    There, but for the grace of God, an inclined driveway and a kickstand that dislodged from under the rear wheel as I was pedaling on what was seconds before a stationary bike, go I.

    I learned to ride because I suddenly found myself in a situation where I could fall, or just keep on going. I kept on going. And while I've had my fair share of falls since then, once you've learned how to ride, you never forget.

    Sometimes we first have to find courage before doing something. Sometimes we find that courage only when we're already in the middle of it.

    "What I learned is we should never let fear stand in the way of anything. Everything worth pursuing has a possibility to hurt you."

    Well-said. Well-done.

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  2. I'm 29 and I don't know how to swim or drive anything that needs hand, feet and eye coordination. I haven't rappelled a cliff or snorkeled, much more dive. Oh and yes, I can't ride a bike. A lot of people tell me that I am missing out on these things. While that may be true, I have also experienced a lot of things that many people may never get to experience in this lifetime. So quits lang. What's important is that in spite of and despite of my lack of skills (and courage) to undertake the above activities, I remain gorgeous and fabulous.

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  3. I think you hit the correct question: have you any bicycles left in your life? There is only one way to answer this doubt and that is to saddle up and found out. I took up bicycling again after a mixed childhood and it coincided with a major, major change in the way I lived life. You never know what is at the end of that first bike ride.

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  4. it's not too late to learn how to ride a bike. you've already had a glimpse of the feeling of riding the thing. and it think at this age, you're tall enough not to fall.

    i know i'm taking this post too literally, but letting your fear take over things you could've or should've done makes you miss on things that's fun.

    but hey, I wrote a Murtaugh List, so what do I know right?

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  5. "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all"

    guess where i got that one from? haha.

    anyways, i guess it all comes down to being safe but boring or sorry but was able to actually do it. sometimes you have to go out of your comfort zone to experience the other side of life.

    btw, MJB's no more drama is my current LSS.

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  6. Life itself is a bicycle in a tight rope. It's not too late, you're actually riding on it.

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  7. wow! very astounding post!
    though i'm a master at bicycles, i believe there are still fears that i need to conquer..
    and i love the quote you got from No More Drama.. very empowering! :)

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  8. Tara! Turuan kitang mag-bike. =)

    P.S. -- Sagot mo ang bike ha, mahal eh. LOL!

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  9. @rudeboy ~ thanks for reading!

    "Sometimes we find that courage only when we're already in the middle of it."

    that's true. it's just sometimes, i get so scared of the thought of falling. it's all good though. at some point, you need to find courage and i think i have just discovered mine.

    @tristan ~ tama yan! i can do a lot of things din naman! haha so what if i can't ride a bike? haha joke! it's not too late. tara, mag-aral tayo mag bike..

    @LOF ~ hmmm.. sounds tempting. how old were you when you took up bicycling again?

    @engle ~ no, it isn't. i guess since i'm older now, i shouldn't be so afraid.

    re: murtaugh list~ i read that post! haha i tried to write my own but i couldn't.

    @max ~ wow. whudabout princess diaries? haha the part about the brave really hits home..

    MJB FTW! i really like this song. i said i don't want another emo post. haha perfect writing soundtrack.

    @acrylique ~ life is what happens while you're making plans. :D

    @markie ~ thanks! yeah, i super love this song too. nice that you're a bike master. i guess it pays to dust off the rubble and try again.

    @mcvie ~ wala na akong bike eh! haha spinning nalang tayo. ganun din yun. wala pang sugat. haha

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  10. sometimes one has to fear gravity.

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  11. 21 years old and almost twice my current weight/size

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  12. @the geek ~ i agree. that's one thing we all have to respect. haha without gravity, i wouldn't have fallen off the bike. but then again without gravity, i doubt we would even have bikes. haha

    @LOF ~ there may be hope for me yet! i wonder if there's a bike-learning center or something. i'm sure the bike-illiterate population is an untapped market. :D it may be an interesting business opportunity. lol

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  13. there is no shame in using training wheels or simply going slow especially if you're just going around the neighborhood -- although the "release and pedal until you crash" pedagogy seems to be preferred globally.

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  14. i suppose at some point the training wheels have to come off. perhaps it's greed. we always want more more more...

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  15. wag na bike. motor na lang. mabilis pa. di lang green. =)

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  16. hmmmm...lalo tuloy akong nalungkot..

    friend, lika, turuan kitang magbike..seryoso ako sa offer

    ang cute naman nung bata..ikaw ba yun?sarap yapusin

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  17. i bet my isang bagay ka namang magaling. yun na lang ang hasain mo! hehehe... umeepal!

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  18. @ewik ~ multiple intelligences ba 'to? haha galingan ko nalang maging patient para di na ako nagagalit sa klase.

    @erick ~ hahaha totoo? turuan mo ko? pedophile! haha joke lang. don't be sad na. baka magalit kuya mo. hehe

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  19. heleer who cares about a godamn bike if we can ride on something way better hahahahaha alam mo na hahahaha

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  20. ako naman tinakas ko ung jeepey ng tatay ko kase ayaw ako turuan. ginawa ko lang 'yung mga bagay na ginagawa niya pag siya ang nagmamaneho. ayun natuto naman ako, napagalitan nga lang ng bongang-bonga noong sinumbong ako ng mga kapitbahay.

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  21. nice realizations bro. i learned a lot from this post. thanks for sharing.

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  22. @xtian ~ hala! that's awful! buti di ka nasaktan. haha

    @YJ ~ hahahaha!!!

    @jay ~ thanks for reading! :D

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  23. awww!!! *hug* i was just able to read this now....

    just take it this way: you didn't learn how to ride a bike, but you learned how to ride the other bikes (you know, the other parts of life) or at least ride them, unlike me who just learned how to ride the 'literal' bike. i wonder when i'll be able to ride the other bikes though..
    well it's not too late to learn how to ride a bike...
    learn to trust people.... and let go of the training wheel :)
    and congrats on being nominated! i knew you'd do it again ^_^

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  24. oh c'mon! you have plenty of bikes! i wish i could cook as well as you do. and you're also very musically inclined.

    re:trusting people. yup yup! big yes on that one.

    re:nom thanks! :D

    i miss u na, friend. kelan ba tayo magkikita?

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  25. Having faith in what we can do,and its individual lessons it hurts us, is the essential element to conquering fear. Before I learn how to ride a bike, I got 12 bruises, until I learned the tricks. The following month is a bliss - riding around town all day. The bruises I got makes it more exciting, more proud and happy. That is life I guess.

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  26. and i suppose those twelve bruises made it all worthwhile, right? i envy your fearlessness. :D

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  27. hi nyl, eto na ung pinakapeborit kong post so far. dun na lang tayo sa gym, un di training wheels ang meron, stand!

    whether you ride a bike again or not, i think you'll be fine. over the years, you've gone slow, moved fast, become still (or learned the art of it) and i think (after all those experiences) you've come out not fine but great. if not, you wouldn't have written this post to start with and all others that always inspire me to write more about my personal life.

    share ko lang, ito ung mga nagustuhan kong parts ng post mong 'to:

    * All I know is it seemed like the right thing to want.

    *It’s not its fault it went to a wimpy kid like me.


    *I wanted to tell him that I didn’t mind my slow bike. I just didn’t want to get hurt.

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  28. You know how much I admire you so it feels really good to read what you wrote.

    Tara gym tayo! haha yung stationery bike! :D yeah, kahit na medyo impaired ako kasi kulang ako ng life skills, ayus lang naman. haha buhay parin ako.

    miss you!

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  29. yeah i know what you mean. minsan pain is part of life. gives importance sa mga bagay.

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  30. yun ang mahirap. when you let your fears get in the way. di mo tuloy natututunan yung mahahalagang lessons in life.

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