What I Learned About Life & Writing From . . . a Bike Ride
Have you ever had to sit back and watch helplessly as someone you loved raced full speed toward disaster?
Last weekend, our family went on a bike ride through the winding trails and quiet streets of our town until we reached our destination: Pizza Sam’s. Hungry and happy we squeezed around a booth and devoured two large pizzas.
As we headed out of the little restaurant, I cautioned my seven year old son about the first hill we needed to ride down. “Make sure you keep your hands on the brakes,” I said, helping him strap on his helmet.
He nodded and hoisted himself onto his bike. He’d just learned to ride without training wheels earlier in the summer. For most of the ride there, he’d meandered behind the other children, taking his time, enjoying the scenery and eager to chat with me—especially since he didn’t have to compete with any of his siblings to be heard. As the second youngest of five children, he’s always been content to follow the others and go at his own easy pace.
But . . . he’s also not always good about thinking through the consequences of an action before doing it—like the time he climbed onto the top shelf in his bedroom to get some Legos, but then ended up pulling the shelves out of the walls, nearly getting a concussion, and destroying all the Lego creations that had been displayed on the shelves.
So, as we poised at the top of the long hill watching the big kids flying down on their bikes, I said again, this time louder, “Keep your hands on the brakes. Don’t let yourself go too fast.”
Off he went. Down, down, down . . . faster and faster and faster.
“Slow down,” I yelled.
His handle bars began to wobble and the bike began to weave. “I can’t stop!” came his terrified cry. All too quickly his bike veered toward a cement median with a tree in the middle.
I could only hold my breath and watch in absolute horror. I couldn’t say anything, couldn’t do anything. But my heart screamed and my pulse hammered.
The situation reminded me of life and how sometimes we start down a path, confident, watching those ahead of us making it, even looking like they’re having fun. But at some point during our ride, we begin to teeter precariously. We veer off course and it looks like we’re headed for a crash.
Maybe it’s like that with marriage or parenting or a career choice or other life situations. We see others succeeding and enjoying their ride, but somehow we’re wobbling, frightened, headed for a cement wall and a big tree.
Same with the writing life. There are times when we feel like we’re on crash-and-burn course—nothing good seems to be happening, and we experience more scrapes and tumbles than anything. I’ve had times like that, even recently, where I can’t help but wonder why I’m pedaling so hard, why I’m putting so much effort into writing, rewriting, marketing, blogging, etc. I’ve even been known to say on a few occasions, “I can’t do this anymore. It’s just too hard.”
It’s at times like that, I tell myself I made a commitment. I can’t quit when things get tough. In a modern throw-away culture, it’s easy to get into the mentality that when we don’t like it, or when something’s broken, or when we get tired of it, we can just give up, toss it aside, and move on to something better.
Commitment is an all-too forgotten ideal and one that fluctuates depending upon our need for it. But it’s something I’m clinging to. I’m hanging on tight against the odds, staying committed, and praying I can finish strong—in my writing and life.
My son didn’t let go of his bike. He clung to the handle bars, even as his bike careened over the cement median, skidded past the tree, and bounced out into the street. Through the crazy ride he hung on and landed on his two feet on the other side.
My heart didn’t resume normal beating for quite some time, and I made sure I hugged my little guy extra hard for a day or two. It was actually nothing short of a miracle that he came away unscathed. The fact is, most of the time life batters and bruises us and leaves us reeling and hurting.
Don’t give up when things get rough. Stay committed. Pray hard. Believe in miracles.
Have you ever been on a bumpy ride with writing or life? What do you do when you’re tempted to give up? And what do you think--is "commitment" a nearly forgotten word in today's culture?
P.S. The winner of this week's drawing for a free copy of The Preacher's Bride is: Lisa Golden! Thanks, everyone, for playing along! Come back on Monday for another trivia question and another chance to win!