Like Riding a Bike


As I write, the little boy across the street is learning to ride his bike. From my desk I can see them through the window—his father holding onto the seat and running along beside as his boy pedals maniacally. When he lets go the man bellows, “Pedal! Pedal!” I hear a high pitched howl before boy and bike topple over into the soft grass. His sister and another little neighbor girl stand witness, cheering as he goes down time after time. But he keeps returning to the seat.

“I feel like my writing muscles have grown weak,” I joked with my friend last weekend at the poetry retreat. “Well,” she said. “It is a skill. If you don’t use it …” I recognized the truth in her words and felt a catch in my throat.

It doesn’t feel like “riding a bike,” this ebb and flow of the writing life. In some ways, though, it does feel like the learning to ride—all these bumps and crashes. I’m on a quest to rediscover the joy I used to find in words. Somewhere along the way, writing became something else, my voice muffled like a song under water.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés calls this quest “building a motherland.”

“This world is being made from our lives, our cries, our laughter, our bones. It is a world worth making, a world worth living in, a world in which there is a prevailing and decent wild sanity …” She goes on to say,

When we think of reclamation it may bring to mind bulldozers or carpenters, the restoration of and old structure, and that is the modern usage of the word. However, the older meaning is this: The word reclamation is derived from the old French reclaimer, meaning ‘to call back the hawk which has been let fly.’ Yes, to cause something of the wild to return when it is called. It is therefore by its meaning an excellent word for us. We are using the voices of our minds, our lives, and our souls to call back intuition, imagination; to call back the Wild Woman. And she comes.”

Last night I told a friend that I am learning I must fight to awaken my voice again—I mustn’t give up as easily as I have. This love of creating is a way of giving to the world and I feel like a part of myself is missing when I am silent. Like a psalm written on my bones, it is a core part of my being.

Across the street, my little neighbor friend gets back up on the seat of his bike again. I hear his sister and her friend lift up encouragement. I hear his father giving instruction. I have voices cheering me on as well. Some have held me until I can find my balance.

But the most essential part falls to me. I have to keep getting back up into the seat.

The winner of last week’s happy giveaway is … Julie Dodson! congratulations, Julie! I’ll be in touch.


  1. says

    Oh, Laura…

    I was sooooo disappointed not to spend time with you in Indiana. So sad that I couldn’t go. So caught in this web of transition and the waiting that seems like it will never end. I feel like I’ve fallen off my bike and broken something. Would you mind if I climb back in the seat and ride next to you?

    • says

      What about a 3-seater? 🙂

      (SHK – Oh, I know your heart. And from someone who’s been there/done that more than once, the way to ease the “waiting” is to live it as if God has you right there on purpose, His purpose. ‘Cause He does, ya know? And that broken something is not a tearing apart, but a joining of where earthly expectations of normalcy rub against His love for us. Aye?)

      • says

        Dear Miss Darlene… Okay, that just busted me into tears. Cuz that’s where I am a lot lately it seems. Right on the edge. Thank you for that. For your words and for the salty bath. I’d climb up on a 3-seater or a multi-seater with all of you any time. Or even if we just get up on our own seats and lasso our bikes together. So grateful to do life with all you–with all of you.

  2. says

    These are words of hope. So many days go by sometimes when I’m not able to put fingers on keys or pen to paper. But then . . . when it’s time to get back on the bike, may we pedal with all our hearts in faith that God will ride tandem with us!

  3. says

    I’m happy to know you are taking steps to get back on the bike again. So glad you went to that retreat!

    In terms of biking–and writing–I think we never lose the balance but we lose the strength, the endurance. And both pursuits take a lot of time and solitude, which are not always luxurious we have in this life.

    • says

      These are good and true observations, Megan. I thought by the time I reached this point in my life I would have plenty of all of those things you mention. But life always surprises, doesn’t it? I’m enjoying your class so! What a gift it has been to have Laura Brown as my poetry buddy. She is a wonder.

  4. says

    Miss Laura –

    This also is where I’ve been the last couple of years. I reckon it’s time to grab hold the clouds and write my heart on their insides.

    I’m cheering you on as you pedal — like a shiny handlebar streamer tickling your wrist. 🙂


  5. says

    The profound life lessons we learn in the every day.
    I kind of remember the life lessons I’ve learned from surfing. So much like this one. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing.

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