I have always had some unusual desires in life. I see certain things and am intrigued by it, and want to conquer it. I am not a fan of being told I’m not capable of something.
When I was younger I went through a phase of being obsessed with circus style things. The trapeze, the show in general, clowns, all of it. I liked the thought of performing for all to see. I tried tight-rope walking by finding ledges and waking along them. It was the best I could do. But it really didn’t do it for me.
One fateful day in gym class, we had a free period where we could do whatever we wanted. The teacher opened the storage closet and said have fun. That’s when I found it, tucked away in the corner. A unicycle. I grabbed it and dragged it out of the closet. There were 2, but one was too small to feel practical, I guess maybe it was for comedic effect.
The teacher saw me drag it out and of course told me to be careful, its harder than it looks. He showed me how to get on it, and rode a little bit, then gave it back. I tried all class to even get a few feet, but never succeeded. Before I knew it, class was over. I put it away and told myself I would do better next time.
Weeks go by where I keep trying and trying every chance I could. One day the teacher walks up to me, still the only child trying to ride it. “The secret is that you’re not trying to ride the unicycle.” I was confused. “You don’t learn to ride the unicycle, you learn how to fall gracefully, the rest comes with that.” I thought about some of the ugly tumbles I had with the unicycle and agreed.
A few more weeks go by, many days could go by between getting to ride it. Then one day, I hopped on, and went forward maybe several feet before I slowly tipped forward and landed on my feet. I understood immediately why he said you learn to fall gracefully. The only reason I made it so far that time was because I was prepping to fall on my feet. I tried a few more times and suddenly I was starting to make real progress. I was able to ride to the other side of the gym, hold the wall, and go back. I was so happy that my hard work paid off.
This however, got the attention of the other kids. Before I knew it, I had a hard time getting to have a turn with it, because all the other kids thought it was neat now. I helped them as much as I could with what I had learned, slowly some of them got a few pedals in before tumbling. I was happy to help, but sad I couldn’t ride as much.
The next time I had gym, I walked into the closet and there were 3 of the bigger unicycles now. The gym teacher had gone out and bought two more of the big one just so we could ride more. He told me that he was inspired by how much hard work I put in and then helped the others ride too. So now we were all able to ride easier.
I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. I was only 10 or 11 when this all took place. The next order of business was I wanted my own unicycle. I went online and found one, and asked my parents if it was okay. I dug into my money and had enough to buy one. My parents got it for me, and I took very good care of it. Practicing at home now, I excelled. I still had that unicycle until recently. I offered to sell it to my younger brother. But he never paid me for it, and it probably got lost in his junk. It was a shame.
Anyway, the point of this long tale was that we all can be proud of something, even if its a strange thing. Also that unicycling is very hard on your torso when you get older. You may never forget how to ride it, but its easier when you’re young.