How to ride a bike
I had been feeling grounded and somehow frustrated in the past days. I still had loads of academic work to accomplish, and the end of the semester was just a flip of a calendar page away.
My life had become monotonous with the daily schedule I set: At 6 a.m. the phone alarm wakes me from a deep sleep into which I fell after turning out the light at 11 p.m. I prepare and eat my breakfast, head to the library, bury my head in a lot of statistical thoughts, attend my classes, scroll the Facebook page, get late-night snacks, and go back to the first part of the loop. I was feeling tired and bored, and I wished to go home soon.
But then I encountered this post on Facebook: a free bike lesson.
Others might find it hilarious that a woman my age would even bother to learn how to ride a bike. Every time I confessed that I did not know how to ride a bike, or that I have not had the chance to learn to do this essential activity, people would put on this expression as if I told them I had not brushed my teeth for a week. I even posed this question to myself: “What have you done with your life? You have a lot of things that you haven’t even tried.”
So, coming across this opportunity, I decided to grab it even if some might think it weird. But then I have found that it is more enjoyable to do the unusual and get out of monotony.
By eight in the morning, the non-bikers had gathered at University Avenue. Most were girls, and I found comfort in realizing that I was not alone in this situation. Red bikes were lined up to be used for the lesson. Our first task was to select the bike that fit us. We were told that we should be able to lay our feet flat on the ground while sitting on it.
The trainer showed us the three steps in learning to ride a bike. The first one is to stride. This explains why we should be able to keep our feet on the ground. We may not be able to ride a bike, but we are capable of striding. If we are able to find balance, we can try to keep our feet off the ground. The next step is to scoot. We put our dominant foot (bikers term it the “chocolate foot”) on the pedal and scoot. When we find the momentum, we can get our other foot off the ground. The final step is to spin. This is the most challenging, yet fulfilling, step. The trainer told us that there are only two types of bikers: those who crashed and those who will crash. We moved along and began to stride and scoot until we found the balance and ventured into a spin. The trainer told us that it is hard to find balance if we move slowly, that we should move faster and there we would find the balance.
I found it very fulfilling that I was able to do five spins. I felt overflowing joy and excitement. Although I was still wobbly on a bike after the lesson, I found ease in knowing that I could be an expert biker after religious practice and the necessary falls and scratches. But I still needed to wear a helmet to protect my head from a probable heavy bump.
That biking lesson not only taught me how to ride a bike but also helped me reflect on how to deal with the daily frustrations that keep me off balance. I have realized that a lot of people experience similar frustrations and downfalls, and that at certain moments when I feel gloomy because of circumstances that drag me down, others are similarly bothered. Some are able to find reasons to go on and eventual solutions to their problems, but there are others who deny themselves the opportunity to get up after a fall and move forward. Some are brave enough to fight for their heart’s desires, but some get tired easily or do not even bother to give their dreams a try.
Here are words of wisdom from a friend: If we are thinking twice about doing something great, we should just allow ourselves to do it and we will be surprised at the end that we were able to accomplish what once seemed impossible. We can turn the impossible into a probability. After all, there is no zero-percent chance of an event to occur if you move for it to happen. A fair coin flip will end up heads or tails. And if we keep flipping it, the probability of the occurrence of each is 50 percent.
I believe life offers us a fair chance, and one should be guaranteed at least a 50-percent chance if he or she keeps on trying.
As in striding and scooting, I should first make sure that my feet can touch the ground. To keep my balance, I should keep my head up. It is a reminder for me to stay humble, to admit that I am vulnerable to falls and scratches. I will find my momentum, keep my balance, and stay confident.
And that is how someone learns to ride a bike. And that will allow me to spin a ride.
Ma. Salvacion B. Pantino, 25, is a graduate student at the School of Statistics in UP Diliman.
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