My father is great with a bicycle, even now that he’s sixty. He’s one of those people who get you wondering why they didn’t join a circus – or perhaps if that’s a part of their life they no longer speak about. Anyhow, on rare occasions I have seen him riding a bicycle backwards, single handed, hand-less and even on one wheel. It was perhaps the nostalgic reaction from his teen year days then that prompted him to buy a bicycle last summer, which in turn prompted me to request him to buy me one too; I’d spent my best childhood days pedaling around in the streets, exploring random nooks and crannies and adding what then seemed to be thrilling experiences to my mind.
My father didn’t ride his bicycle after the test trial. After a few rides, I understood why – small minds in small towns can’t bear to see anything that’s out of the ordinary for them. And so, my bicycle lay rusting in the store, waiting patiently for me to take notice of it again.
It was perhaps this forbearing endeavor that caused it to serve once more as my noble steed. I came home for winter break after a few months of being away at school with the knowledge that the opinion of others is hardly a worthy obstacle in the path of doing what you love.
Merely mounting the bicycle brought enthralled me. Nostalgic euphoria and possibly a tad bit of adrenaline – I was pedaling swiftly around town with a wide grin on my face. I didn’t even mind the army men in their jeep who gaped at me open mouthed (“Alert headquarters! It’s a GIRL ON A BICYCLE”) or the scrawny, shabby old man with the toothless grin who said Masha’Allah when he saw me. I bicycled for hours, and have been doing so for several days, because the experience sates some part of my inner craving for adventure and brings me intense joy.
Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, you’ll be damned if you don’t. – Eleanor Roosevelt
The common expression is that the abandonment of fear provides a dangerous amount of freedom – and it’s true. Societal constraints imprison the human mind and cripple it of potential. They starve the soul of joy because they function as narrow walls cemented in the absence of sound logic and reasoning.
My father still hasn’t touched the bicycle that he purchased with so much love because he’s afraid of the condescending grunts of people “A sixty year old man on a bicycle!”. And maybe he’s right. The previous generation does function in that manner, but just because it worked for them doesn’t mean it can work for us.
Being a small town girl of nineteen shouldn’t serve as a hurdle for me do what I love because the constraint would be self imposed in my manner of perception. Human beings encapsulate ground breaking, earth shattering potential. The courage to unleash it is the test. To follow your heart is the real path to salvation. This account isn’t merely an afterglow of a pleasant morning’s bicycle ride – it applies to all situations and circumstances.
Ride like the wind – swift, free and unstoppable.
After a few days of making frequent public appearances as “the girl on the bicycle”, people are beginning to get used to it. Eventually, they’ll even stop noticing.