“You gotta keep pedaling, babe, or you’ll fall!”
“Keep pedaling…keep pedaling…keep pedaling…”
This was my refrain yesterday as I got my 6 year old out to ride her bike for only the second time without training wheels. As I started to hear myself repeating it, I thought maybe there was a timely life lesson here akin to my reflections the first time she rode with training wheels a couple of years ago.
Given a recent tornado and a current pandemic and the pain of friends who have lost homes, are losing jobs and businesses, and my own challenges in keeping a startup alive, the message of “just keep pedaling” seemed like it might be wise. After all what else are you going to do!?
And, there is some truth to this. I fear if I stop pedaling or my community stops pedaling amid this almost unfathomable reality, I may just hit the ground. I’ve got to keep some momentum, some inertia, or steering will become more difficult. I’ll end up jerking the handle bars back and forth more rapidly, erratically, directionless, just to stay upright. I will ultimately lose my balance anyway.
As these thoughts were flooding my mind and my simultaneous refrain to my daughter echoed in my ears, my daughter did something else. She had fallen once again. But, this time she had stopped and started quietly looking at a patch of clover, focusing on something else, engaging in another component of her world, other senses, shifting her perspective. Stopping. Not pedaling.
And then, she got back up, got back on her bike, and started pedaling - and she kept pedaling this time. When she did fall, she suddenly figured out how to do it without hitting the ground. She also figured out how to get started on her own, to generate her own momentum, to start riding again.
The reality is, I guess, that yes, sometimes we do have to keep pedaling…pedaling…pedaling or we will fall. But, maybe sometimes we also have to stop pedaling for a bit to learn how to fall, or to learn that falling isn’t necessarily all we feared it would be, or maybe it’s worse, but we figure out how to start again, more wise, more prepared to keep pedaling, more resilient knowing how to - and that we can - get back up.