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Forgetting How to Ride a Bicycle

Repost by: Dr. Stew Bittman

I used to ride a bike a lot when I was a kid, but in the subsequent 45 or so years I’ve ridden one perhaps a dozen times. Some of the gaps in between have been a decade or more. Yet each time I’ve ended one of those bike-riding droughts, all I’ve had to do is hop on and off I went as if the last time had been yesterday. I was not only able to do it, but it was easy. Apparently riding a bicycle is just like riding a bicycle! I find that pretty amazing, especially considering the fact that each time I’ve resumed bike riding after a long hiatus there wasn’t a single atom in my body that was in there the last time I’d done it!

My brain became wired to ride a bicycle early in life and it (and therefore I) will never forget how. Or so I thought.

Have you seen the YouTube video about the backwards bicycle?

An engineer was given a bike that turned left when you turned the handlebars to the right, and vice versa. To his surprise, being a coordinated and intelligent guy, he could not ride it, even a few feet. He is a public speaker and began taking the bike on the road with him. He offered anyone in the audience $200 if they could ride the bike 10 feet across the stage and no one could do it. He himself took it on as a personal challenge, and practiced 5 or so minutes a day. It took him 8 months to be able to ride it. And the moment he could do it, he said it was like something clicked in his brain. (By the way, it took his 6-year son 2 weeks to accomplish what it took him 8 months to do)

The most interesting thing about all this for him was that once he was able to ride the backwards bike, he no longer could ride a regular bike (it took him 20 minutes of trying before he could). He forgot how to ride a bicycle!

This is incredibly interesting and empowering to me.

I know my brain is wired and biased toward other things besides how to ride a bike. Things like anger, separation, taking things personally, wanting (needing) to be right, judging, being more aware of lack and limitation than of love and abundance, etc., and undoubtedly a whole host of other things I’m not even aware of. I find these things very easy to do and very hard to forget how to do. In fact, I have often entertained the idea that I could never unlearn some of these tendencies. But if it’s possible to unlearn how to ride a bicycle, I know it’s possible to unlearn those things as well. All I have to do is practice a different way, and stick with it until something clicks in my brain. Then I won’t be able to “ride a regular bicycle” anymore!

I believe that at the center of my being is love,

and that love is always tapping at the door of my consciousness, ready, willing, able and indeed anxious to pour into my awareness, into my life and into this world. I realize I have allowed my brain to be wired in such a way as to ignore the tapping. I have allowed it to put walls, chains, locks, moats and guard dogs around the door. But I also realize that the more I practice opening the door, moment to moment and day to day, the quicker my brain will re-wire to support that love. I’m more than OK with my brain being biased toward expressing, giving, receiving and experiencing love. How about you? I’ll see you on the backwards bicycle!

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