The Inaugural Post

Posted: 06/06/2012 by erichblayde in Firsts, Life Lessons
Tags: , , , ,

I think sometimes the first post in any blog, column, journal or other written compendium is meant to sound a little off, a little unsure. Indeed, it is a first of something and as such serves as a measure when we reach the last and look back. So perhaps it is important to have that shaky, unsure first. In honor of that rather startling discovery let’s devote this first blog to firsts then shall we?

Firsts have a way of creeping up I think, even when you know they are bound to happen or are even waiting impatiently for them to appear. For example, your first bike. Perhaps you were a child like myself, who seemed to be late to every party that marks the passing of childhood, last one to walk, last one to talk, and last one to get a big boy bike. Now I have always said I took my time in childhood because I wanted to make sure I got it right (hmmm…wonder where that went wrong :D) but I do have to say that first bike took an awfully long time to work it’s way round to me. I knew from the time I was 5 that I would have a bike and be the best bike rider in town but I had one small trouble. No bike. And being raised by a single mother, no money to get one so I was forced to wait. But oh how I wanted that bike! I pleaded with my mother and was told that if I wanted a bike I would have to work for the neighbours and save my allowance to buy my own. And so I did, throughout the long dusty summer and the cold punishing winter beyond I trudged up and down the little gravel road offering to mow lawns, shovel drives, walk dogs, and memorably babysit a 1700 pound bull for a week. Needless to say this was hard work for a child of 6 and I spent my nights sleeping deeply, dreaming of the day I would ride my bike for the first time. Finally summer arrived again, and with it the announcement from my parent that I now had $110 in my account at the bank and could afford a bike. I could not wait for the next trip to the nearby city whence I might finally lay hands on my destiny and go forth from that point to become the worlds foremost bike jumper.

The day came finally and I found myself speeding like a bullet through the aisles of Sears towards the bikes. But alack! They were all so perfect but just a tad…bigger and scarier than I had imagined perhaps? Ah, all would be well I was sure. I selected a bike and after a minor haggle with a kindly clerk found myself marching out the doors with a brand new neon green and black bike. Hours later I found myself in our front yard with my new bike and feeling rather shaky inside. It was rather bigger than I thought it would have been, with a complicated looking set of sprockets and a rather menacing air about it. My mother came on to the porch and smiled kindly, to this day I still think she had seen through my tough act from the moment I put it on, and said something I have never forgotten. “Firsts are frightening so that you will never forget to be happy the next time” Though I didn’t understand that at the time I nodded and grabbed hold of the green monster. I steadied myself, lifted my leg to get on, and promptly found myself flat on my back with the bike atop me, bleeding down one leg. Again I tried, and again I fell, and again, this time falling forwards and catching a handlebar to the mouth. Needless to say, this was not turning out to be the glorious first ride I had imagined. Filled with rage and humiliation I backed up a pace and flung myself at the thing with all my might and managed to gain the saddle for a brief moment, my feet beat the peddles furiously and I was off! Five feet beyond my starting point something I have never been able to discern to this day went horribly wrong, the handlebar wrenched sideways stopping the bike in its tracks while my feet still sawed at the peddles, the rear of the bike rose gracefully into the air and I uncermoniously landed amid my crumpled dreams with a thud.

Furious now, I leaped upon the thing using a series of descriptive adjectives hardly proper for a 6 year old and heaved the beast upright. Sweating and swearing I hopped on yet again and fell once more in a heap. Fortunately my mother chose this moment to call me to supper saving me from yet another crushing blow to my ego. After supper I complained to my mother that I couldn’t ride the silly thing and I wanted to take it back. My mother laughed quietly and said with a twinkle “Of course you couldn’t ride it right the first time dear. Nobody ever gets things perfect the first time. But now you’ve had supper and a rest so it’s technically the second time and you will be just fine. Go on now and play” Dutifully I left the house and retrieved my new possesion, hauling it to the road and gingerly bracing one foot on a pedal. Having thought this through over supper I pushed off hard with one foot leaning my weight over the pedal and swung my leg over the seat. Having got a running start on the thing my plan worked beautifully and as long as I was moving, I was on top of the world!

It has been many summers, and many firsts since the year I got my wonderful little bike. That particular summer had many more moments of crashing than I describe here. Now years down the road of life I have never learned to jump  a bike properly and I still panic a little inside when going down a hill but despite the derailment in my 6 year old self’s life planI think the lesson of the function of firsts is one of the most important I have learned to this day. Never be afraid to try something new, embrace your shaky feeling and dive in. It could be the one thing you were missing in life

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