I mean, how did I go this long without this feeling? This flying feeling with the road just under, that is not like running but not like flying but not like anything else that makes sense. It’s Friday evening and after staring at a blank page for what seems like way longer than usual I still find myself struggling for things to say. The truth is that I’m still thinking about earlier in the day when I finally learned how to ride a bike. Scoff if you must, dear reader, if you’ve been doing wheelies all your life. But I know there are lots of other women out there who never learned to ride a bike and who think it’s too late for them now. And I can’t say that I’m not looking forward to the fabulous thighs I will now have thanks to cycling but really, cycling is a revolutionary kind of thing that more of us need to be doing, daily.
I can’t say that I’ve felt such a profound sense of achieving something since maybe I learned to walk or read, neither of which I really remember. I didn’t have much hope that it would happen. When you get to my ripe old age of thirty-something, you believe the hype that you’ve learned everything you’re going to learn and there’s not much left to do except fight a losing battle against gravity. And I’m not sure when it happened, maybe somewhere in-between me wanting to give up and wanting to cry because I suspect I am too stupid to train my body to balance on two wheels, but something shifted and whaps, next thing you know, I’m pedalling down the road and there is no hand on my back keeping me from veering into the pothole and I am doing this all by myself.
And when I stop trying to think myself into balance and start to feel it, it’s like the heavens open up and there are angels singing, but it’s actually the wind playing with the bells in my hair and I am not thinking anymore about pedalling and balance and brakes but just about enjoying the moment. I doubt myself about whether I should share this. Gushing all over the people’s newspaper about how anything is possible if you put your mind to it. But this is kind of the truth. Being a serious journalist is really starting to kill my buzz about learning to ride a bike and I wonder if I too have fallen into the morose media trap. It’s hard to be in the media and not like it very much. I find myself trying to avoid the news at all costs, too scared that the headlines will drag me back down into the general air of hopelessness that hangs over T&T along with the heat and the stench of unfulfilled dreams.
I start grasping for things to complain about: flaky labour movement or useless government? Pet peeves or nagging doubts? None of these things feel right today because I learned to ride a bike and I am terribly proud of myself and it’s my column and I’ll be happy if I want to dammit. Last weekend at Ganga Dhaaraa, Uncle Ravi Ji said to me that he sees me as a leader and I doubt myself enough to say in that typical Trini way, who, me? Not me, Papa. I don’t want that kind of headache. That kind of challenge. That kind of commitment. Like all good elders he is deliberately vague about what exactly he means. Good elders, like good cycling teachers, just give enough direction to help you come to the conclusion yourself. That leadership is not one thing all the time. That leaders are not the ones who talk the loudest or are the most charming.
Something about figuring out the riding thing helps me to make sense of so many other life things. How we hold ourselves back because of unfounded fears. How being a grown-up means forgetting to have a sense of wonder about everything. How getting big also means that you start to take yourself so seriously that you forget how to laugh and find innovative solutions to your problems. This is not a day for any of those things. I was so pleased I bought myself an overpriced mammy sapote. I’m so happy I taught myself how to use Final Cut bette. I’m so happy I start to feel like I can make a difference again, instead of just poking at the wounds and feeling powerless. I guess it’s all about perspective. You’ll never know unless you try it. Give yourself a chance. To be yourself and not being afraid to purge your life of the people who only ever want to remind you of your flaws, as if flaws always have to be tragic. The thought that stays with me after the initial thrill of my biking success is to lose the fear of letting yourself fly. And I wish we could all lose that fear, collectively. What amazing place this would be if we did.