Saturday, August 14, 2010

Riding without training wheels

I've made it to my destination. From Saigon, Vietnam to Bangkok, Thailand I rode. Going through jungle after jungle, grasslands and rice patties, seeing lotus flowers, water buffalo, countless field workers with their hats to protect them from the sun. I rode up Vietnam to the city of Hue, West towards Laos and the city of Savannakhet, South down Laos to Phnom Pehn, Cambodia and finally reaching the temples of Ankor and finishing in Bangkok. With old friends, meeting new friends, remembering the past, thinking about the future, a huge spiral of yes and no, a wheel of never ending thankfulness. I hurt sometimes, those long 7 hour treks over 150 kilometers, going all day, one time pulling over and letting the headache subside, but continuing soon after, grasping the white dot the hardest. I was met face-to-face with reality. The reality of the world, privilege and subsidy. Love and pure spirit. I met a girl and her friends, only 17, limited with opportunity themselves, they go above and beyond to help their community. They saw the child write a big zero on a piece of paper, he had nothing, nothing at all could help him, he didn't know what he could be, want to be, because he was infected at birth by his mother with HIV. It was boys like that, this girl said, that she wanted to give hope. Give people hope to survive and outlast their circumstances and reach their dreams.

I remember one of my first dreams, goals, as a boy. It was to ride without training wheels. I'd go all day and night trying to ride without my practically-ridden until the once wheels turned into teenage-mutant-ninja-turtle-stickered training spikes, the rubber wheels being rubbed down by the sidewalk until just the metal training part remained. I couldn't do it for the longest time, trust myself to ride without these training wheels. Just trying to be okay with trusting that balance, the balance between sidewalk and balancing on the bike, feeling that wind against my face, the smell of the swing set and the taste of clean air. The circumstance that finally got me up, out of my training wheels, was with my dad, Corey, he guided me past that scariness of the road, ran right beside me until I got control of the bike, could feel the wind and could taste the sweetness of air around me, gliding up through the old ponderosa trees, past my handlebars and into my nostrils. It was in a church parking lot by my house that it all happened. I was going downhill, fast, my dad running beside me, I thought he was still holding onto me, holding onto me tight, but then he let go, I didn't even realize it, but he let go and I went flying. I looked behind me and saw that he was gone...seconds later, I crashed, knowing he had left. He came running up to me, ensuring that I was okay. Blowing on my lacerated knees to ensure my sanity. I was okay with him by my side. He got me back up on my feet, told me to try again, not give up, and that's just what I did. I went again. I felt him giving me a push on my bicycle seat, feeling him letting go and allowing me to ride by myself. I was doing it. I looked behind myself again and found myself flying down the church parking lot. Faster and faster, soaring. No training wheels, no more being scared. It's just me and the road now and nothing to stop me. I rode every day after that, in the church parking lot. That night, my dad took off my training wheels and I never wanted them again. I learned to balance on my own and it truly felt like flying!

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