Imagine that you had a bike with no brakes. You just used your feet when you had to slow it down. You never even questioned why your bike came without brakes, you just rode it. Figuring out along the way how to keep yourself safe.
You lived your whole life with this bike and one day someone asked you to take theirs down the street for them.
You would do them a favor. Without a thought in the world, you got on the bike and rode it.
When it was time to slow down and stop, your hands naturally held on to the brakes feeling an unfamiliar ease, a kind of sudden freedom. You may even go as far as to say, you encountered the kind of slow motion, time standing still type of slowing down that feels like you are on a movie set. The wind blowing on your hair the right amount of air.
You finally arrive at the spot your friend told you about and, as you are about to step off the bike, you sob. Right there on the street. Your friend sees you from afar and is rushing towards you, thinking that you fell and hurt yourself. ‘What is wrong?’ she asks. You don’t even know how to tell her you have never used brakes before in your life. How you scraped your feet on the asphalt every day for as long as you can remember. How you did not know how it felt to not have to.
You just realized that you lived life in a way that was harder than everyone else’s and you didn’t even know it. You thought everyone struggled the way you did, you thought everyone rode the bike the way you did, and that those handle brakes were just there for show.
You did not know it was so that you could rest your feet on the pedals. So that you could keep safe when a car jumped in front of you. So that you could slow down without having to scrape every sole you ever owned.
You gave the bike to your friend and just turned to walk back to yours.
Thoughts swimming as if they are drowning in your head. You look at your feet and they are full of small sneaky rocks and sticky dust. You never had shiny shoes on them. As you approach the bike, you know what you have to do. But before you do, you tell yourself that it will take time to forgive the part of you who just survived without asking if there was a better way.
The part of you that never wondered if everyone endured that same daily hardship. How you didn’t notice the shiny shoes everyone else had on but you. The day will come when forgiveness will set in. While you are finally riding the bike, you should have had all along. Your shoes are glimmering in the sunlight and you are enjoying the turns and twists of the road. You notice the wind in your hair. And you don’t have to carry wash clothes in your bag to care for the shoes. Sometimes there are parts in our lives that are really hard, but we never question them. We just find a way to get through them, never indulging in the possibility that we don’t have to work so hard, or live this way. Without questioning what is and what has always been, we miss the fancy handle brakes and the chance to have nice shoes. It may not be everything, but when we just get by in life with parts that don’t have to be so hard, then the things that do, feel even worse.
Recently, I realized that a hard part of my life didn’t need to be that hard. I was furious at myself for not knowing this sooner. For not knowing that I didn’t have to scrape the soles of my shoes.
Oh my friend, what a lesson that was. It had me sitting staring out my backyard for a while. Remembering all the times I was scraping down the streets with a brakeless bike that I didn’t have to have.
As I was staring, I knew that this moment of knowing was immeasurable. It felt like art. Like a Picasso showing up at my front door. I may have had scrapes at my feet and no shoes that looked decent, but I had learned a big lesson.
It won’t be long now, you’ll see me strolling down the street with my brand new bike. I will be looking out for you. So we can ride together, with the perfect wind on our hair, and with the most shiniest pairs of shoes the world has ever seen.
With bike rides for miles,
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