At long last, spring has really sprung. Away with the puffy coats and furry hats, off with the tall boots or comfortable Uggs, and no more icy fingertips or red-nosed snowy days. Now, it is all about budding flowers, chirping birds, the end of school, and long lazy days spent with those we love.
Visiting my family over spring break, I noticed that my little brother had just gotten a new bike – his very first bicycle. He couldn’t wait to try it out, to feel proud and tall as he’d speed through the neighborhood on the shiny blue wheels. Seeing his enthusiasm, I smiled. Not too long ago, on a bright spring day as well, I had also received my first bike. Learning to ride it created one of the fondest memories of my childhood, and one that comes up to smile at me every single spring.
It was time to ditch my old pink bike with the ‘training wheels’ and make room for a ‘real bike’.
I was 6 years old at the time, and I’d finally convinced my father that it was time to ditch my old pink bike with the ‘training wheels’ and make room for a ‘real bike’. In the crisp afternoon breeze, my father took me to buy the bike, and together we unpacked it as soon as we got home.
“Hop on, sweetheart,” my father smiled at me.
My heart fluttered with excitement and a tinge of fear. I put on a brave face, got on the bike, faltered for a moment, and immediately fell to the ground. My braveness disappeared, and I burst into a torrent of tears. My knee was slightly scraped and my flashy purple bike had crashed to the ground beside me, but what hurt the most was the feeling of failure, feeling like riding the ‘big girl’ bike was so far out of my reach.
And then my father said this.
He extended his strong arm and lifted me off the ground, wiping my tears with the sleeve of his jacket. Still holding onto me, he picked up the brand new bike and gently helped me get onto it. He smiled at me with pride. Falling down is ok, sweetheart. But remember this little trick, and you’ll be riding like a pro: in order to keep your balance, you gotta keep moving.
That was one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard in my entire life. Granted, I fell off that shiny bike many times afterwards, but whenever I remembered to ‘just keep moving,’ I stayed steady and balanced. The most amazing thing is that as I grew older, I learned to apply this lesson to life in general as well. When I got rejected from the Special Science Club in the fifth grade, I was so embarrassed that I wanted to stay on the proverbial ground and never get up. When I got my heart broken for the first time in high school, I didn’t think I’d ever get up and ride on with life. When I received ‘we regret to inform you’ letters from colleges that I’d applied to, I felt like I’d reached rock bottom without any point of getting back up.
All of these scenarios, and many more throughout my life, gave me the chance to stop moving and let myself stay down where I’d fallen. But I didn’t let that happen. I just pictured my father’s encouraging words to his trusting little girl, got back on the bike of life, and remembered to keep moving.
So when I see all the little girls and boys getting on their new bikes in the pleasant spring breeze, I truly hope that there’s someone in their life who’s letting them know that in order to keep your balance, you gotta keep on movin’!