Finding balance comes in many forms. It can be physical, as well as emotional. Balance is what keeps us in check and enables us to face each day with strength and joy. Balance came to me in the form of a bicycle.
I was eight years old and my father was stationed in Viet Nam for a year, so my mother took my sister and I to Ohio for the summer with our grandparents. Upon arrival my grandfather marched us right down to the Western Union on Main Street and bought us bikes. Mine was red. There were no training wheels. There were no baby steps here. I had to just dive right in.
The balance of missing my father, and experiencing lighthearted fun was ignited.
The streets were lined with great oaks and as beautiful and majestic as they were, the roots created a true BMX course of navigation. Uneven pavements, broken and chipped cement; my knees were not spared of cuts and bruises. The neighbor girl saw my plight and offered to assist. She was kind and deliberate and helped me find my balance on that rocky road. That summer my body felt strong and tears did not flow as desperately.
Riding a bicycle has been a constant throughout my life-
I rode my 10-speed to class in college. Again, the balance of studying, boys, money, and frustration, was soothed by this simple movement.
I rode my 3-speed with a baby seat on the back in my twenties. Babies fell asleep from the lull and I too found a way to cope with lack of sleep and overwork.
And now, at 56, I ride my bike to strengthen my knees and keep active. But more than that, I ride to ensure balance in my life. After a long day of teaching, I come home and ride. The air washes off the day’s thoughts and concerns like a fresh rain on a dusty field. My body is strengthened and I restore my sense of self.
If you’re looking for balance in your life, you might consider something as basic as riding a bike. It hasn’t failed me yet.