A purple ribbon fell to the ground. I watched a child topple over from their tricycle. Before I could reach out, their parent walked over to help them get off the ground. The child began looking at their bruised elbows, dejected. One of the wheels of the tricycle spun to the side. I looked at it, thinking of my struggle learning how to ride a bicycle.
Photo albums reminded me of a pink and white bicycle with ribbons on both ends. I recall my pigtails flying in the air as I raced down a hill. I try to search for memories at the place I was learning to ride a bike. I recall feeling uneasy when my tricycle wheel was packed into a box. Now, I had to learn how to ride without the support of my trusty third.
I have pushed around for a few weeks, or maybe longer. I would pedal as long as I knew someone was holding onto the bicycle seat. I remember panic rushed through me as I tried to steer myself to control. I toppled over, as we all do. Bruised elbows, bandaids were a rite of passage of some sort.
I do not remember what it felt like when I first learnt to find balance. I wonder how the parent must have felt when they let go and trust me for steering safely. I think about how I must have mustered the courage to keep pedalling. To keep hoping that I would make it to the end of the road. I did, to the end of that road, many hills down, through many parks and in many lanes.
Fredrick Backman's words are etched in some corner of my memory as I look at the child and their parent steering the wobbly tricycle home. I hope that the child will perhaps try again, that tomorrow will be another day to learn how to find balance and that someday, they will steer across the park-like I did. Perhaps, we all hope.
'They say that a person's personality is the sum of their experiences. But that isn't true, at least not entirely, because if our past define us, we'd never be able to put up with ourselves. We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we're more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are what we choose next, and all of our tomorrows.'
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