What to Do When You Get Knocked Down
Posted on October 24, 2013
It was a hot summer day when my older brother and I decided to take his new bike for its first ride. I was young and capricious, wanting to do everything my older brother could do. I idolized my older brother. To me he was smart and strong, a true hero.
When he got his 10 speed that Christmas we spent the entire winter and spring daydreaming about all the adventures we would have on the “high road.” So, when the weather finally broke and our mom gave us permission to take his bike out we were overcome with excitement.
I watched as my brother rode up and down the block, circling the perimeter, outlined by our mother, as a boundary for our adventures. With his every passing the wind hit my young face and I reveled in my brother’s new found freedom. I cheered as he made attempts to pop wheelies and jump curbs. He never got them quite right, but I was still amazed. Against better judgement, we didn’t wear helmets or safety pads. Safety was the least our concerns.
The bike and the seemingly open road were all that mattered. We were free, even if it was until the street lights came on.
I loved when my brother included me on things that little sisters don’t typically get to experience, like the time he learned to play basketball with the other guys on our block. He came home teaching me his latest moves on a make shift basketball net–even giving me a default three points advantage because I was too short to actually score. Bike riding was no different. After he finished his laps he helped me climb the bike, which was too advanced for my small, seven-year-old frame, and gave me specific instructions on navigating.
“Kirah, hold the handle bars like this.” He said while demonstrating with his hands. Continuing his instructions, he added, “When you need to brake, push back on the pedals.”
“Do you understand?”
“I understand!” I said, not really understanding.
I just wanted to get on the bike and feel the same adrenaline that caused his face to light up.
My brother held on to the bike as I made my first strides. I felt good about my abilities, so I urged him to let go. I pushed down on the pedals harder than the previous step, exhausting every muscle in my body to increase my speed. I turned the handle bars with ease, circling back up the block when I hit the corner store. I could see my brother in the distance keeping a close eye. The more I rode, the more confident I became.
Then, without realizing, I cut the corner too soon. Everything happened so quickly I forgot to hit the brakes. After losing grip of the handle bars my little body propelled off the bike seat. I felt the heat of the concrete scrapping against my knees. I pulled myself up, managing to let out a silent cry for help. My eyes welled with tears and I could hear my brother’s feet hitting the pavement as he ran towards me.
I looked down at my bloodied knee. There was so much blood I couldn’t stop staring. My brother stopped in front of me and we stood in silence. Perhaps he was wondering how this would bode with our mother. Or, maybe he was as shocked as I was. Whatever he was thinking left him frozen.
When, what seemed like 100 minutes of silence passed, my brother grabbed my knee cleaning the blood with his shirt. He looked at me and said words that I’ve carried in my heart for the last 22 years.
“Kirah, just laugh.”
At the moment I must of thought him insane because the tears started pounding the back of my eyes, forcing themselves out.
“What?” I asked.
“When you fall down, I want you to laugh.” He said.
His body grew larger as he continued speaking. “You’re going to fall a lot more and it’s going to hurt, but that’s okay. You can laugh about it.”
“I can?” I asked.
“Yeah, just laugh.” He said confidently.
I was confused. How could I laugh at something so painful? I was bleeding. It hurt. And there was no doubt the fall would leave a terrible scar. I didn’t want to be laughing. I wanted to kick the stupid bike that caused my pain. But, I trusted him.
At first laughing seemed disingenuous. It was an uncomfortable laugh that I bellied from the deepest place of my emotions. I kept laughing, pushing through the pain. My brother joined in, laughing and wiping my knee. He said he could see the bike wobbling and the expression on my face just before I fell. We laughed some more. I told him I don’t even remember hitting the ground. He wiped my knee and we laughed.
I asked how he made it over to me so quickly, because he’s usually a slow runner. Our laughter grew. Before I realized, we were both laughing hysterically, my knee was cleaned from the bleeding and the street lights were on. He grabbed the bike and we walked back towards our house casting lots on who would explain this to our mother. This made us laugh even more.
In the following days I got stitches and the pain subsided. I was right, the fall did leave a nasty scar, but it didn’t matter. Looking at it became a reminder that whenever I fall I could always find my laughter.
Now it’s your turn: When you find yourself experiencing a trial in life, how do you respond?
Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.