I was driving across Georgia the other day on a back road when I noticed on my right a youth heading in my direction from the right at a fast rate of speed. He wasn’t running, so I assumed he was on a skateboard. Protruding from the small blue toboggan on his head, I could see earphones covering his ear. Over the bushes in my line of sight, I could see his flannel green jacket gaining ground fast as I began to slow my rate of speed.
As I neared his position he immediately changed his direction with an ease of motion returning in the direction he came. As he turned, I noticed his hand grasp his cell phone in a way that appeared he was texting.
The rest of the black pavement that I traversed was rather mundane compared to the freedom of experience that youth seemed to cast upon my day. There was a side of me that wanted to tell him he should be more careful or he might get hurt, but also within me there was a since of longing to be that kid again whose joy was caught up in riding a skateboard.
For me it wasn’t a skateboard, I was never so coordinated to be able to balance properly on one safely. I am sure if had grown up near the ocean, I wouldn’t find bliss on a surfboard either.
I found my escapes were simply being outside often riding my bicycle. Despite the limitations of childhood asthma, I managed to gain periods where I could get upon my bike and seem to soar with the right amount of exertion not to trigger an attack.
Initially, it was a small green bike with a banana seat that allowed me to move freely in a three-mile radius of home, up and down hills, through the woods and into the adventures of imagination.
The bike was a present from my folks and it was my steady companion. I am sure if my folks had not moved into the city, I would have been climbing upon a horse with regularity instead. However, I found all the adventure I needed, from pinecone battles with neighborhood friends, to races down suicide hill on the back of that green bike.
Of course, into every life a little rain must fall, as did my association with my companion. There came a day on suicide hill, that we didn’t see eye to eye. I wanted to go down and it didn’t, so about mid way through at top speed it stopped and I didn’t. My open light orange short sleeve shirt flapped in the breeze of my momentum as I took flight between the handlebars.
For the briefest of moments I knew what it was like to glide through the air like the brown thrashers that called out from above. Of course, that elation ended promptly upon my searing introduction to the deep black asphalt baking in the Georgia summer sun.
Almost like a top spinning out of control, my body face down rotated on down the hill until the inertia of my descent was exhausted.
I know when I was finally able to pick my now bruised and bleeding body from the pavement, I was about 25 feet on down the hill from where my bike had abandoned me.
My shorts were tattered from the slide on the pavement but the shirt had survived.
I had asphalt burns from the shoulders down and on my cheek and needless to say the pain I was in was nothing compared to that I expected once my parents found out how I received the injuries.
I hobbled my way back to my bike, picked it up and what happened next is rather a blur.
I was in so much pain, all I could think about was getting back home.
I think one of the other kids parent’s who lived nearby was summoned to my rescue, getting me the few blocks back to my home, where began the painful process of healing.
From that point on, I looked differently at suicide hill. Time and time again, it had brought me the elation of freedom gliding down it but now it had beaten me. Though I was slow to return to my bike, once there I avoided the hill for a long time. I would even ride right up to its edge and rather than head down turn around or simple get off and walk down.
I kept trying to face my fear and one day I finally found within myself the ability to cast off soaring down the hill again. I felt the breeze rush past my scarred but now healed cheek and limbs.
The fear faded in the face of the elation of the moment and I never again stood at the precipice anxious in my decision.
Throughout life, we face moments just like this one. We have been beaten and battered by experiences that leave us shuddering in the thought of facing our fear. While fear is a good thing, it helps us to know when we should move cautiously, we cannot allow it to rule our lives. God empowers us with the ability to proceed knowing He is with us always. His presence though does not always insure our mortal safety, if we choose the course unwisely.
Choose wisely and soar through your life feeling the breeze upon your cheeks.