Day 12: Today, I’m thankful I got on the bike.
That overused cliché about never forgetting how to ride a bike turns out to be true. I haven’t had a bike since… well, I honestly don’t even remember. Sometime around second grade, I think.
We got my dad a bicycle for Father’s Day a few weeks ago, and since the temperature dropped from 93 to 75 degrees over the course of an hour today, I finally decided to give it a whirl around the block. I’ve been debating for weeks, but I’ve psyched myself out every time, imagining violently sliding across the pavement sideways and meeting my untimely and embarrassing end. Today, I said screw it, put on some soffe shorts and a tank top, and went for it.
I went around the block twice and came back in, sweating, and feeling good that I conquered my fear – even if that makes me as accomplished as a 6 years old. After a little bit of lightning and some spitting rain passed, I decided to go back out again.
I’m so glad I did – the air had a yellow hue, the clouds were dark purple against an auburn sky, and the air was cool. I kept the gear higher than I should trudging up the massive hills in my neighborhood and didn’t succumb to squeezing the breaks as I came soaring down the other side. It felt incredible to go that fast, cool air beating around my ears and tangling my hair. And one time around the block turned into three or four or five, as I lost track of time.
I’m sure I my butt cheeks will be hurting tomorrow, the unfortunate way they do when a bicycle seat bruises them, but for now, I’m glad that I got on and started peddling. Once I did, I realized how silly it was to not ride simply for the fear of falling down.
It’s funny to make a plan that frightens people so much. Moving to Europe is the equivalent of moving to the Moon in my parent’s minds. Still, the most common response I hear is, “I wish I would have when I was your age.” Then a story about mounting responsibility as you grow older ensues.
It humors me to hear all of the “I was going to but I didn’t” stories. Dark humor, I mean. It is a little sad that so many people dream of doing things that they never accomplish. Maybe they are not passionate enough about that particular thing to make it happen, or maybe the fear of failure overcomes.
A good friend explained it best when I gave the ‘bad timing’ excuse. She said you will always be able to justify reasons not to do something. The excuses won’t go away in a year or ten years or ever. She opened my eyes to my own fear of the unknown. Not enough money, too much good family, the good job, the boyfriend, the bills, health, language barriers, ignorance, the list is infinite and expanding faster than the universe.
So, of course I have thought of 1,000 reasons not to go to Prague. I have as much baggage (good and bad) as anyone else. I’m leaving behind a good family, a job I shouldn’t have at my age and a world of opportunity. But there is one overwhelming reason telling me that it’s okay to go: I’ll regret it if I don’t.
Not everyone has the same Everest. If a desk job and Excel worksheets are your dream, you should, by all means, follow that dream. Get the extra lumbar support in your chair if it makes you happy. It’s not about how unconventional or adventurous you can be. It’s about following your heart and your dreams and looking back when you’re 80 and saying, “Damn, I did life right.”