It’s as easy as (fill in the blank)

by Sandra

And I’m sure most of you would finish that sentence with “riding a bike.”

The term “it’s as easy as riding a bike,” never meant much to me, because before this weekend, I didn’t know how to ride one.

What?, you might be asking … Sandra you’re like almost thirty.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I just never learned before. In fact I had developed a certain amount of pride in not knowing. Something about the way people looked askance when they heard that I didn’t know how to ride a bike was delicious in its disapproval. It’s just a bike, it’s not like I don’t know how to do my taxes or drive a car. Besides, who cares? Plenty of people in this world don’t know how to do those things. And yet, they get by.

I can no longer feel that pride though, because this weekend, I finally learned.

My friend Mike initiated. He gave me my first lesson almost six years ago, and emailed me last week to see if I wanted to have another one. I did, and I didn’t. And then it rained, and I was happy, because I thought I could avoid doing it for another day, another week, but then he said that he anticipated the rain, and had provisions for just such an occassion.

So it was, after about three hours of tooling around on his little fold up bike, under the cover of a Ralph’s supermarket loading dock, that I pedaled my first revolutions. Mike was a great teacher, in that A) he was super-patient and B) he was super hands-off. Part of the problem with our first lesson in 2004 were the six other people hovering over, giving their unsolicited advice. This time, Mike gave me a few pointers, a few suggestions, and let me go. He understood, I think, that really all I needed was to get the feel for the bike and get a grip on my balance, which I did, little-by-little.

Mike also said not to expect to figure it out all in one day, which took the pressure off that I had to learn but also lit a fire under my tail, because let’s be honest, if I didn’t learn on Saturday, when were Mike and I going to get together to go over it again? In another six years? I didn’t want to wait, so I just kept trying.

My biggest breakthrough came about two hours in, when I realized that looking straight ahead was the key to the whole process. I’d been looking at my feet the entire time, watching myself, when I needed to look straight ahead and let my feet feel what they needed to do. My desire to see what I was doing impeded on actually being able to do what I wanted. Right now I could jump into the metaphorical rabbit hole of faith vs. certainty, blah blah blah, but I’ll spare you, except to say that yes, sometimes our desire to see what we’re supposed to do gets in the way of our actually doing what we need to do. So, if that’s true, is it supposed to be as easy as riding a bike, too? …

Anyway, I now know how to ride a bike. I’m no expert yet, I veer to the left most of the time, but I can stay upright. It’s two days later and my butt is still incredibly sore—so sore that my cheeks are swollen, let me tell you. But still, the feeling of accomplishment is way better than the pride I felt in not knowing.