How to ride a bike

it all comes down to trust.


a little step,

a little push

your daddy holds your hand the first time when

you walk up to your bike

buckles your pink sparkly helmet

you beg him not to make you

but he promises it’ll be okay

and you trust him.


so off you go

you look back every once in a while to

make sure his hands

are still on the back of your seat

they always are.


then one day suddenly

they aren't

but you aren't angry

a little scared, maybe

the wind in your face

soothes that right away

your pigtails swing behind you

just like your bike tassels


you’ll take your first fall

probably soon after that

your first thought is

“where's daddy?”

and you can't look down at your

surely scraped knees

he comes running from the garage,

hands greasy

helps you up with a smile

the world is right.


you’re a little bit scarred

a little bit scared

to ride for a while

and when you do you

fasten your training wheels back on

with a little shame

but eventually, you can

take them off again

and you're conquering hills

and slopes

and you see your dad’s proud smile

when you tell him about your adventures

and then you're proud too.


everything in life

is like riding a bike.


you’ve learned a lot when you're four or five

how to read, how to talk

but no one told you how mean kids can be

and you fall

but somebody helps you back up, eventually


you’ve got it all figured out by the age of eight

finally have a best friend who

will wear fake glasses with you

to school cause you think it's cute

and have a secret club in a tent you

set up in your basement

but your gramma dies and you don't understand

you can't understand

how goodness didn't come through this time

you fall

somebody helps you back up


at eleven you discover that sometimes

friendship doesn't last

that there are cooler and better

people than you

or at least, that's what the voices

in your head tell you

suddenly you have nowhere to sit

at lunch so

you eat in a classroom

and read books with your teacher

all through the long, long hour

and cry from time to time

you find yourself falling

til somebody helps you back up


when you’re fourteen things

start to fall apart

your dad moves out and

your mom works late

and your boyfriend forgets about

your dinner dates and

never brings you flowers

and you see perfection on social media

and wonder why your life doesn't

look like that

you find that your hair doesn't curl

like you want it to

and you don't have enough money

for the latest trends

your friends are richer,

or better, or cooler

you fall again and again

but somebody always helps you back up


by the time you're seventeen

you're a little bit of

a hardened soul

understand life better

than most of your classmates

and you know it, too

find your meaning in poetry and

late night conversations with yourself

you struggle when your evenings

with your dad start to

trickle down the drain like murky bathwater

til you see him once a month, maybe

even though he lives three miles away

you hate his new stepdaughters for

stealing him away

and you throw out your old bike

that you'd saved all this time

with its dusty flowered basket and its

tattered tassels

cause it's just a reminder of

what you don't have anymore

you keep on falling down a hole of apathy

but somebody always shows up

to pick you back up


at twenty you think

that you finally got it right

have a loving man at your side

a perfect grade point average,

a lovely voice

a healing of the hurt

you thought

til the loving man isn't loving anymore

and you get a C in chemistry

and you get terribly sick

and can't sing anymore

your hateful man leaves your side

for another just like daddy

and you lose who you thought you were

and realize you never knew

you fall

somebody picks you up


it starts to feel like a rhythm

falling and getting

helped off the ground

you're reminded from time to time

of the love that your friends show

and the way you can't reciprocate

you need training wheels to walk some days

but you smile to hide it

you get tired of falling

and people having to pick you back up


one day you meet a man who

loves the outdoors almost as much

as he loves you

he brings you flowers

he surprises you with Chinese food

on your worst days

he never expects things of you and

is patient, and kind, and

willing to serve

he begs you to hike with him

“the mountains are so beautiful

you would love them”

he says but

you hate the outdoors


you love him


you start to love nature, too

he was right, it is calming

you forget about falling

and betrayal

and longing

and suddenly you're all in

and he sees that in you


on your twenty-second birthday

you find in your garage

a brand new bike

with a note attached

your outdoor man

wants you to join him

on a cross-country bike trip

you pause and think back

to your little pink bike

with its representation

of all that went wrong


and you can't wait to ride again

a redemption of sorts

surely you'll fall on some rocky trail

out west

but you know for certain

that you'll look up and see

an outstretched hand that won't

ever leave


riding a bike

is all about trust

and the willingness to fall sometimes

because the falling makes

the getting back up

mean something.


doesn't it?