I took my 7 year old daughter bike riding the other day in the beautiful spring weather. Sun was shining late into the afternoon and the air was warm with a hint of the coming summer. She moved forward swiftly on the sidewalk in our neighborhood showing off her skills with a happy smile.
Then she fell and almost cracked her helmet! Thank God she had that helmet on in the first place. She started crying showing me her bruises on her right elbow and her right knee. It wasn’t that bad but she was bleeding. Not the first time she fell but it was the biggest fall she had to date so she was still crying a lot. It breaks your heart but kind of cute at the same time.
Her little sister and I tried to calm her by listening with empathy and saying it was going to be OK. Eventually, her crying slowed along with her breath and I encouraged her to get back on her bike right away. Because that’s what you do right? Get back on the bike and move forward! She was scared and didn’t want to but with a little bit of stubborn encouragement from me, she did it and was actually feeling better pedaling down the street back to our house. I think she was pedaling fairly well because she wanted to rush home to show her mom the bruises and beg for a band aid.
As the bandages peeled off during the last couple of days, she was a big girl once again treating it as if nothing had happened. After she took off the last of the bandage on her knee, she asked me how long the scrapes and bruises would remain. “Not long baby. Don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine”, I said to her, as moms and dads have said throughout time.
What I realized in that moment is that all of us at some point in our life go through really difficult times. We’ve all “fallen off the bike”. Uncertain work situations that cause us stress, anxiety and migraines. Complicated relationships that make us think twice about getting back into another uncertain relationship. Friendships that get tested through challenging and unpredictable situations. Health or finance problems that bring us down. Business challenges and so on. We’ve all had chaos filled situations that make us pause. Sometimes we hurt because of some major chaos at work where we had certain expectations.
But, we don’t see the emotional scars that getting through chaos has left on ourselves. The imprint of bruises we have suffered in a life of chaos are not as visible as a banged up knee. But it still affects us. It haunts us years later. We stop moving. We over analyze. We don’t move forward. We freeze. We get stuck because we’re afraid to get back on the bike. We’re fearful of trying new things because we’ve been burned by co-workers, customers, friends we thought we had or people who we expected to love. We tend to forget these scars that chaos has left on us while we continue to suffer from its paralysis.
I believe that as we learn to live and deal with uncertainty, chaos and the unpredictability of life, we should never forget the chaos we have endured long ago on our path. The craziness and confusion that we experienced. The hurt to the bone kind of pain that we went through that made us question everything. Remember it? I certainly do. By reminding ourselves of the difficult times we endured, we’re not re-opening a wound. We are instead reminding ourselves that we got through it. We did it! That we persevered and moved forward regardless of the hurdles we faced. We went ahead. We moved forward and embraced the chaos. We got through it and it all ended as it is supposed to…just fine.
The scars of life can sometimes serve as helpful reminders that we had tough times but more importantly, these invisible bruises on our soul serve a purpose: to remind us to Move Forward because things do work out somehow.
That work and life are full of unpredictability and that no matter how far down you fall…as I said to my little girl, “get up, brush it off, smile and get back on the bike…you’ll be fine”.
Don’t Over Think It. Move Forward. Embrace the Chaos! | Bob Miglani