I’ve forgotten most of my life. For example, what did I do last year on this day? Don’t remember. What did I eat for lunch last week on Monday? Can’t recall that either. Its all faded into the sunsets of so many yesterdays. That’s true for you and me alike, I imagine.
I do remember the time I tried to ride my bike no hands and no feet. Yes, you heard that right. Keep your answer to yourself if you just visualized how this ends.
I was maybe 10 years old and heading home from my friend Josh’s house. He lived a few miles away, just past our elementary school. Being Summertime, no doubt we spent the day climbing his backyard trees or building forts in his basement or jumping our bikes in the parking lot next to his house. And surely at some point, my mom called to let me know I had to head home for dinner. But I don’t remember any of this.
I can still vividly recall riding my Schwinn Stingray down the hill in front of our school. The sun was on my face. The warm breeze blew my white T-shirt in waves behind me. I was purely alive on that bike.
The moment inspired me to show off my only known daredevil moves. I rode no hands for a stretch, which felt awesome. I put my hands back on the handlebars and switched to no feet. That was smooth too. If only my older brother or my classmates could see me now.
And that’s when the thought came to me: Who has ever tried no hands and no feet on a bike before? When you’ve got that much courage in your blood, you don’t have time to mull something over. You need a new trick pronto. I would try it.
Speeding along on that little banana seat racer, I lifted my legs. And once I was steadied, I took my hands off those cruiser handlebars. For a moment, I was flying.
It was a very short moment. If this was a flying dream, the thud of my body hitting the warm pavement was my alarm clock. I will forever marvel at how quickly I was on the ground. I lay listening to my bike tumble its way down the hill and stop.
It hurt bad. I gasped for breathe with the wind knocked out of me. My knees stung warm from being skinned.
There’s an obvious imminent danger to being sprawled out in the middle of a street. But I thought nothing of cars. I was most afraid of eyes. Laying breathless in the road gave me a minute to realize riding no hands and no feet is impossible. And just plain dumb. Where seconds earlier I had dreamed of an audience, I now feared anyone watching would be the death of me.
I did not wait to breathe. I hobbled to my bike, got back on and peddled my way home, running from the eyes I hoped were not there. Well into adulthood, I still could only think of this story and cringe. Oh, that boy was so much embarrassment.
If it’s not obvious, my heart has changed about this story. I have come to love that boy. And I see now his big risk and big heart. And I love how he took life for a ride. That’s me. I get to be him with that adventurous heart.
I said at the start that you will forget most of your life too. But not all of it. And the reason you remember it is probably not what you think. It’s worth pointing out that that word remember can be taken to mean “to belong again.” There is a part of your glorious self in ever memory you hold.
So treat what you remember like gold. It holds the clues to your existence.