Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Monday #7--Try again


"Ever tried. 
 Ever failed.
 No matter.
 Try again.
 Fail again.
 Fail better."

                                      -Samuel Beckett


I am 325.6 pounds.  Someone I love and trust very much told me I need to be harder on myself and set more specific goals.  That is good advice, so this week I want to walk for at least 3 hours total and do something that makes me sweat and feel energized everyday.  I want to lose three pounds by next Monday (October 20, 2014) and I know I can do it by eating less and moving much more. 

This is my 7th week into my journey and I am happy to still be here doing it.  I have to raise my level of commitment and I will.  My life is messy, big and beautiful and I want to live it and enjoy it as long as possible.  Losing this weight and staying healthy physically and mentally can only give me positive results.

Last week I told the story of how I learned to ride a bike by falling several times.  Well I was able to ride a bike, but I never became an expert.  In fact I took some chances that at the time made perfect sense, but now seem pretty stupid.

In our neighborhood bike riding was the main activity.  Kids at every age level would ride their bikes up and down the cul-de-sac.  But my neighbor, let us call him Keanu, was the leader of the bike riding pack.  He was what I imagine girls would refer to as a "bad boy", he was a tough kid who didn't smile much and loved to do "tough things".  I don't know what any of those "tough things" actually were other than riding his bike fast, but I am pretty sure he did not button his collared shirt all the way up! 

                            Keanu at 12:

His dad had built him a bike ramp.  At the time it looked like a an amazing feat of engineering that I could not understand.  Now looking back I realize it was just an inclined plane that went up a few feet, and no I could not build that for my kids on demand without having written instructions and watching a 20 minute Youtube lecture that I stopped and replayed every 3 minutes to understand it.  His dad did not have that modern technology so he simply built his son a kick ass bike ramp for the 80's.

                     The Ramp:

I used to watch Keanu and the other neighborhood boys get up lots of speed and go up that ramp and "fly" in the air and come down safely on the pavement.  I must have watched them do that tens of times, over and over.  I imagine that I was fine just watching, enjoying the spectacle and feeling a part of the action even thought I most definitely was not.  Then one day it happened.

Keanu said to me, "Hey, you want to try it?"  He said that to me. He asked if I wanted to try it, which was like giving me permission to try it.  That was awesome.  I was definitely going to try it, because he asked me to and I would look like a punk if I said no and my sister was standing right beside me when he asked and I would look like a punk to her if I said no.

Here are a couple of reasons why I should not have tried it.

1) I had never seen bike "stunts" before.  In this day and age everyone is used to Tony Hawk and the "RIDICULOUSNESS" phenomena of seeing skaters and bikers doing all kinds of crazy stunts on the television.  That did not exist when I was a kid.  Today, this is a world where the ESPN "X" Games exists.  The first time I turned to ESPN and my regularly scheduled zoning-out programming was interrupted by the "X" Games you should have seen my face.  I was so confused.  There were people riding bikes doing stunts on television then after I naturally turned the channel and turned back in ten minutes hoping the mistake had been fixed there were other people doing ski "tricks" on television.  I thought I was being punked. 

I wanted to call up my cable company and say this, "Hello, hi yes ummm..I think there has been some mistake.  Yes I know you know my address, but ummm.., I don't know how to say this but only Black people live here.  Yes, I am African-American, no, no I get that all the time; I have talked this way my whole life.  Yeah, and I turned to ESPN and sports is not on it.  What's on it?  Well there are these people riding bikes and skiing I think?  Those are sports?  Where do they play those sports?  No, I am sorry I am not interested can you change it back please?"

2) I did not have the equipment to get on that ramp.  Here is what I mean.  I imagine when my parents bought me a bike, they thought "Hey, he kind of sucks at riding a bike so let's get him the safest option out there."  Well, the "safest option out there" featured a specific warning on the side of the bike.  This is almost verbatim what that warning said, "THIS BIKE IS NOT MADE FOR STUNTS.  DO NOT ATTEMPT ANY STUNTS ON THIS BIKE.  IF YOU DO ATTEMPT STUNTS ON THIS BIKE YOU WILL DIE A FIERY DEATH.  THAT MEANS YOU PERSON WHO IS READING THIS WARNING.  ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ATTEMPT STUNTS ON THIS BIKE!!"  or something to that effect.

          The face that accompanied the warning:

3) I was a really bad bike rider.  I was just getting the hang of not falling when I tried to ride in a straight line.  I repeat: Not falling when I tried to ride in a straight line.  You don't send your infant who took his first step out on the track to run the 100 meter dash at the Olympics.  You don't put your first grader who just learned to make a fist into the Octagon to face "Rampage" Jackson in a no holds barred match.  But you do send a shaky bike rider with too much unwarranted confidence onto a ramp of death to try his luck.

So there I was twenty feet from the ramp ready to DO THIS!!  I had seen these guys DO THIS countless times so I knew what I was doing.  I would just build up speed, hit the ramp and glide through the air as I safely landed back onto the pavement.  Effortless...

I did build up speed.  I managed to stay in a relatively straight line going towards that ramp at the fastest speed I could muster.  I was able to hit that ramp in its relative middle at enough speed to give me a good lift into the air.  What happened next is disputed, but what happened after that is not.

My sister remembers this story as me getting about one to one and a half inches off the ramp into the air.  I remember the story as being about eight to nine feet in the air.  The truth is probably in the middle somewhere and I was about seven feet in the air off that ramp.  Whether one inch or seven feet, at that time in my life I had never been that high in the air.  As a kid I rarely jumped (did I mention I was fat)?  In high school I could dunk the basketball so being high up in the air wasn't scary or weird.  As a kid, however, I did not know what to do.

I was in the air and looked down and felt myself as almost weightless.  I saw the bike under me and felt like I was still going up.  Now when we make stupid decisions, I don't believe it is our intelligence at play as much as our instincts just being incorrect.  Something told me (THE DEVIL) to let go.  I was in the air, with my hands and body solidly on the bike and something in my head (THE DEVIL) told me to just let go.  So I did.

I remember seeing the bike fading away, almost like it was falling somewhere behind me out of my line of vision.  I felt like I was flying and I was horizontal to the ground.  Like Superman really.  And then I remember seeing the actual ground.  The concrete started getting closer and closer to me.  At that moment I realized I was not actually flying, but I was falling face first (again) into the sidewalk.  I don't remember the pain, but I do know that I hit the pavement face first and I sliiiiiiiiiiddddd to a stop.  My face and my whole body actually sliiiiiiiiidddd to a stop.

                  Actual picture of me afterwards:

That really must have hurt, but once again I don't remember anything after that.  I imagine my sister went screaming into the house and my parents spatula'ed me off the ground and brought me inside.  I never tried Keanu's bike ramp again and I don't remember playing with him much after that.  I probably should have put that one minor setback aside and practiced my bike stunt skills more, but I decided to retire my wild bike side after that and stick to leisurely rides around the neighborhood.  Just shaky straight lines for me thanks!

I will see you next week, three pounds lighter with another story to tell! 


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