A few days ago, I did something that terrified me. I rode a bicycle in the heart of NYC.
I was going to be there for a short while and did not want to interrupt my training schedule for my MS 150. In order to do this, I had to summon the courage to ride a bike in New York City.
I was petrified. I knew that I was scared, but the level of fear did not really hit me until I was actually standing in the bike shop and was ready to wheel the bike out. I must have fiddled with my helmet for 15 minutes. The person helping me was so patient. I told him that I was scared and that I had never rode in traffic before.
He said that I had every right to be scared and that it should make me hyper-cautious. He told me to keep my head on a swivel and be ready to make defensive moves at a moment’s notice. He showed me the second set of brakes…which he called the “panic brakes.”
The name did not help to lessen my fear. In fact, it revved up my level of “?&#$, what am I doing?!”
I took a deep breath and I wheeled the bike onto the sidewalk. The pedestrians did not care that I was shelling a bike; they scurried around me as fast as they could and my first defensive test came as I had to ask someone to please let me thru.
I wheeled the bike to the street and waited for the traffic to slow down and I entered the road. The first few turns of the pedals felt like I had never ridden a bicycle. I was wobbly and shaky and the bike was riding me. I got off, stopped at the sidewalk and told myself that I am a good rider, I am a defensive rider and I know how to handle this bike.
When I mounted again, I had a different feeling and even though my heart was still beating hard and fast, it now felt like excitement and not doom. I kept my eyes on the road. I stayed present to everything that was going on. I followed all the traffic rules and I made it safely to where I needed to be.
The feeling was that of elation.
The feeling was familiar.
The last time I felt this alive was when I crossed a marathon finish line. I was energized. I was on a high.
I know that you have heard the saying, “do something scary every day.”
I see it all the time on the Lululemon bags that I have in my closet.
The problem was that I did not know how to find simple “scary” stuff to do.
I thought that it always had to be huge like learning a new language or training for a new event. I did not realize that doing something familiar could be the very definition of “scary.” A simple thing like riding a bike, but in an unfamiliar place, gave me the heebeegeebees….but I didn’t let it stop me, and for that I am proud!
At 58 years old, I rode a bike through the streets of NYC for the first time and I conquered my fear.
What scary thing will you do today?
Love & light,