Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bicycle metaphors

An interesting blog-u-lacious synchronicity, this morning.

Seth Godin, marketing maven, shares a beautifully to-the-point comment on personal responsibility. It can be tempting to "blame the M.S." for fill-in-the-blank on whatever's torquing you off at the moment, but one of the most unescapable gifts of M.S. is the reminder that M.S. doesn't exist; there is no separate entity "M.S." that's doing things to you. Only you exist. "M.S." is just a convenient cataloging of some components of your current condition; but there is nothing other than you. There is no separate enemy; there's only you.

And on Tiny Buddha, Melissa Moore muses on facing fear, using the metaphor of letting go of the handlebars while riding your bicycle.

It's an interesting metaphor in the context of the difficulties walking that some of us M.S.ers face (myself included). We long to take our hands off the wall, the cane(s), the walker, and proudly walk, even run, completely unassisted. We don't, because we're afraid of falling—because we have fallen, and we know we very well may fall again...that we will fall again. It's neurological nonsense, bad wiring, not fear, that we're up against. Because we're willing to let go, we're so willing to let go... but prudence counsels us to hang on. Right now, at least.

And the one thing nobody tells you while you're learning to ride the bike, is that if you're going fast enough, you can't fall over. Sure, you can hit a pothole or skid or any of the usual vehicular irritations, but barring those, if you're going fast enough—you can't fall over. Thank the glorious physics of the bicycle and the world we live in; once you hit the magical speed and keep going straight (enough) ahead, you'll stay up. There's no way you can fall over, as long as you're moving forward with a certain velocity.

But even for us who have balance and locomotion issues, the bicycle metaphor still has meaning. We need to move forward. To let go of the fear of falling—of failing, because we're not sure how to ride this neurological life-cycle—and move forward. However we can, however we're able. To start pedaling, because when we're going fast enough, we will be able to let go of the handlebars and keep moving.

Seth says, "If you think you have no choice but to do what you do now, you've already made a serious error." And he's right; if you try to go forward too slowly, or not move forward at all... there's no way the bicycle can stay upright. You will fall.

Another gift of M.S.: Our very own bicycle. It may be a recumbent bike, it may enable you to use your hands rather than feet on its pedals... but one thing it does not have, is training wheels.

Go forward, and keep going forward, steadily and without fear;

and you can't fall.

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