Updated: Jan 6
I must have been about 10 or 11 when I got my first set of wheels. The deal was simple. I do well at school, and that summer, I get to be the boss of the road! So I delivered the goods and went on to claim my prize.
She was a Beaut! Cobalt Blue that shimmered in the sun, a glorious slash of white across the frame, fat wheels and chrome and steel doodads guaranteed that I was the envy of the neighbourhood. Schweet!
One problem though. I didn’t know how to ride a bicycle. Best piece of equipment on street and no skills.
This small problem really only dawned on me once we got the bike home and had it assembled. Of course that was also a different time. No training wheels, helmets or knee pads back then. Not that any of those would remotely be an option for my burgeoning coolness!
So there I was, hitting the streets, with coolness under seat, and not a clue how to ride! I was gonna do this come hell or high water!
In the sharp summer sun and under the amused and scornful gazes of neighbours and fellow riders my coolness quickly made way for humility. For the next two weeks I endured a gruelling routine, a bit like the Karate Kid. Instead, I was less ‘wax on, wax off’ and more ‘get on, fall off’. There were some pretty helpful kids, some actually trying to get me riding, others trying to help themselves to my bike! Then there was the heckling. You’ve never been heckled until you’ve been heckled on the Cape Flats! Jislaik!
Eventually I got my rhythm; gingerly and tentatively, I made my way from one end of the road to the other. I quickly learnt something really important; Do NOT Get Distracted! You see, when I was falling in the beginning, there was very little momentum; and therefore very little injuries. Now that I was actually riding the bike, the distractions cost me dearly. Every time I came down, I got hurt quite badly because of the speed I had gathered and the fact that the roads were littered with stones. I realised that I had to be aware of the stones, the potholes [yes, there were potholes back then], the loose gravel and other whatnots that littered the street; but that giving them my focus and attention took me everywhere but toward my destination. I realised that I could be aware of the holes and stones and still fully give my focus and attention to moving toward my destination and thus travel without injury or scorn.
And this was how I started a glorious summer of amazing adventures and invaluable life lessons. The life lesson that stands out is to keep the Main Thing the main thing. I wonder if I succumbed to the heckling, the stones, the potholes or the pain of a multitude of injuries, if I would have learned to ride my bike and if I would have experienced the inexplicable freedom I had experienced that summer.
What are your goals and objectives? Where are you on course to. What has your attention and your focus? The inevitable distractions and discomforts, or is your attention fully on the Prize?
Remember, the main thing is to keep the Main Thing the main thing!