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Crashing Into Mailboxes

Updated: Jan 11

It all started out pretty well. I was 5 years old, and the big day had come to take the training wheels off of my bike. My dad held onto the back of the seat, as my Mom and a few of the neighbors cheered me on. (This was back in the days when neighbors were all outside participating in each other’s lives. It was a wonderful time to grow up.) We went up and down the street a few times while I gained my balance and some confidence, and then suddenly without warning my dad let go of the bike. At first I felt a little shaky, but then totally exhilarated that I was actually riding a bicycle all by myself. I was even more excited when I negotiated the turn at the end of the street without messing up. It was a few laps of pure joy before I realized I was getting a little bit tired, but that I had a big problem. We had never talked about how to stop. In hindsight it would have been better to just call out to my dad to assist me. I wasn’t riding very fast, so he easily could have run to come help me. Instead though I panicked, and I’m pretty sure I actually sped up a little as I came careening toward our house. Right about the time my parents recognized what was happening, I was barreling smack into our mailbox. I hit it so hard it came completely out of the ground landing on top of me. Of course since this was the 70’s I wasn’t wearing a helmet either, so it was a fairly epic crash that had all of the adults running over to be sure I was alright. No serious injuries thankfully (except to my pride) but I was banged up and cried a lot as my dad dug me out from under the heap. He propped me up on the curb and sat with me while I whimpered (in part from the pain, but mostly from embarrassment.) Once he was certain I was truly ok though, he suggested that we try it again. "What??” I thought. "No way!!!" In my 5 year old mind I was DONE with bike riding. It was no fun at all to fall down and get hurt. Why would I want to do that again? Eventually, though, he coaxed me back onto the bicycle, talked me through the basics of braking and stopping gracefully, and sent me off again. This time I coasted in for a smooth stop, all smiles. I spent most of my childhood on a bike. It carried me to school, friends' houses, the pool, pretty much everywhere. In those days kids had a lot of freedom from a young age, so that bicycle truly expanded my reach and abilities. Amazingly, given the dare-devil tricks we all used to do, I never wiped out again. What a blessing that I didn’t quit after that first humiliating crash. I would have missed out on so many wonderful memories and experiences if I had. Thanks Dad!!

You know...there’s a lot of times that adulting feels an awful lot like crashing into a mailbox. Things just don’t always go the way we plan. Life is full of so many heartbreaks, failures and disappointments. The older you get the bigger your problems seem to get as well. It can be enough at times to make you just want to stay in bed with the covers pulled up over your head. When we get hurt it's a natural reaction to want to withdraw. By quitting, it feels like we can protect ourselves from failing again in the future. Perhaps we can actually, but the trouble is we also deprive ourselves of the chance at future success. If I had refused to take a chance on love again after my divorce, I would have missed out on the last three years with my current husband. It was scary to try again, but worth it. The Harry Potter book series was rejected 12 times by publishers, before going on to become some of the highest grossing books/movies in history. What if JK Rowling had given up after the 10th rejection? No one would have blamed her. 10 rejections must have been extraordinarily frustrating and painful. I am fairly certain that today she is glad she kept on submitting the manuscripts anyway.

I have a few dreams that have been residing on the back shelf of my life for quite awhile now. One thing or another keeps jumping in the way every time I set out to make them realities. I have quit and given up more times than I can recall, questioning whether they are worth the price. Or if they are perhaps just not meant to be. I mean, if every time I start moving forward I get sidetracked by life anyway, what’s the point right? My Dad’s voice is in my head again recently. “Laura, it’s time to try again.” But what if I crash epically? Then again - what if I don’t? All I know is this...I have to try. The day we stop trying is the day we stop fully living. So we must always summon the courage to begin many times as it takes.

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