When I was 8 years old, I had a shiny pink stingray bike sporting a groovy banana seat, white basket with several mod colorful flowers and tassels streaming from the handlebars. I loved this bike! I rode it in the sun or the rain, it didn't matter, I was an 8 year old kid.
As is typical with kids of this age group, we had the brilliant idea to make a bicycle jump in the only vacant lot in the entire neighborhood which happened to be across the street from my house. We all contributed to the construction of our latest entertainment of the day and then took turns trying it out. Now I'm sure it was only about a foot off the ground even though it seemed to be five feet high in our young idealistic minds. But either way, we were thrilled and ready to try it out.
We all lined up and waited with eager anticipation. One after another...each excited neighborhood kid conquered the "daring" jump followed by squeals of delight and success. My turn finally came and I remember the excitement coursing through my petite body as I walked my precious bike into position and waited for the "all clear" sign. It came...I was on my way.
As I rolled down the slight hill gaining the necessary momentum for catching "big air", I saw the coveted platform getting closer and as I carefully lined up for the jump, at the last possible moment, my little sister stepped in the path. In a split second, all of my reflexes jumped into action and I veered off course, steered my stingray handlebars to the right and missed the "sweet spot" causing me to hit the edge of the jump, fly over my handle bars and skid on the pavement chin first.
I clearly remember the searing pain that immediately shot through my head. I had laid out my face on the asphalt leaving a trail of blood in my wake. Everyone ran to my side. Kids fled to find an available parent and I lay there bleeding, holding the side of my head as my chin pain immediately transferred to severe ear pain.
The rest is a bit of a blur, but I do remember being in the doctor's office getting stitched up and remember hearing him tell my mother that my wound was clear to the bone requiring internal as well as external stitches. I remember crying and I remember hurting. AND, I remember the sheer thrill of the ride!
Thirty six stitches later, I walked out of the office with a brand new scar that would last for the remainder of my life. It's a jagged, somewhat faded scar that has sparked many conversations over the years and each time I re-tell the story, the intensity of the pain returns, if only for a fleeting few moments.
Just like my accident, life is just like going off a bike jump. No matter how well you plan, things come up at the last moment that can cause us to veer off course and end up with results that are the polar opposite of our best laid plans. In a split second, things can happen and produce a completely different outcome.
Not always is the end result "painful" but it is usually unexpected and it always throws us off course. In my life, I have come to see that the majority of my best laid plans have ended up not as I had originally anticipated. Most of the time it's OK and I have learned to adapt. I have, many times, even ended up happier with the "new " result in many cases. The trick is, to hang on to the handle bars until you come to a complete stop, take the lumps and remember the consequences of the outcome so as to never repeat or endure it again.
I love the movie "The Lion King". There is a great scene where the wise shaministic baboon Rafiki is walking along with the young Simba. Suddenly Rafiki wacks Simba over the head with his walking stick to which Simba cries outs, "Ow, why did you do that?" Rafiki responds with, "Get over it, it's in the past." As they continue to walk, Rafiki takes yet another swing at Simba to which this time, Simba cleaverly ducks out of the way. Rafiki proudly tells him, "See, you've already learned!"
Like my 8 year old bicycle accident, I learned that day that life is full of unanticipated obstacles. Things come up at the last possible moment and if we aren't prepared, we will hurt. But we get over it, the pains and scars fade, but the lessons will remain and life moves on.