I am not much for nostalgia. I like to think about the present and the future more. The idea of studying genealogy or reminiscing about the past normally does not appeal to me. My mother is an accomplished genealogist who has done years of work researching our family history. I know she wishes I cared more about this topic. I do care a little but I remain far removed from having a genealogy passion.
I do not have many items from my childhood, just a few items my father gave me. I do have some photographs and I think my mother probably has some more. I do have plenty of memories from childhood. Mostly playing with my sister. We played Batman and Robin. Since I was older, I was Batman. I also played outside with my friends. We played basketball or football. We played outside until called in for dinner.
Despite a focus on the future and a lack of childhood memorabilia, there is one item in my house that has survived the test of time and my propensity to not retain old things. Sitting in our den is my first bicycle. The bicycle has evolved from a functioning means of transportation, albeit somewhat ancient, to a decorative piece that holds dried flowers. For years I have looked past or ignored this decoration as it rested in our den. A few weeks ago, I looked at the bicycle and had an epiphany. This epiphany included a flood of memories represented by this bicycle.
I learned to ride a bicycle when I was 4 and a half years old. This means the bicycle dates from early 1964. As of this writing, the bicycle is 53 years old. The bicycle is red in color and has an adjustable bar to convert it from a girl’s bike to a boy’s bike. It is currently configured as a girl’s bike as my sister learned to ride on it after me.
One of the memories that washed over my mind was that of my father running behind me while I tried to learn to ride without training wheels. I remember looking back and seeing that my father was no longer helping me and that I had been riding the bike myself for several yards. Upon realizing I was riding alone, I immediately fell off the bike. Eventually, I mastered riding a bicycle. This small red bicycle represents one of my earliest physical, mental and emotional accomplishments. Then there is the permanent image I have of my father running behind me trying to enable my success. Though this literal image was never repeated, the figurative image represents the idea of my father continuously helping me be successful by training me and then letting me try and fail on my own. The impact of this approach lingers to this day and would continue to be effective with today’s children.
If you have known me for any length of time, you know I am clumsy. I have had numerous accidents resulting in various combinations of cuts (stitches), broken bones and surgeries. This little red bicycle was part of my first foray into an inconvenient injury. After watching a movie about King Arthur, I decided it was time to do a little jousting on my bike. I found a long pole somewhere and proceeded to attack my opponent. Before we engaged in combat, my pole hit the ground and threw me off the bike. I landed on the curb and broke my collarbone. As was customary during this time, my parents waited several days before taking me to the doctor. Finally, my mother decided to take me in and get an X-Ray.
So, where am I going with this bit of self-indulgent writing? My key point is memories are not such a bad thing to recall. I found a certain amount of peace and completion in contemplating the memories ignited by staring at my old red bicycle. These memories reminded me about the core of who I am and brought unexpected joy to this “let’s live for the moment” guy. My conclusion is I need to reflect more on the history of my life. I believe it helps make us complete when we occasionally reflect upon the past. Besides the happiness we may receive, there are also lessons from the past we can relearn so we can be better equipped to deal with the future. Maybe I will even take a look at some of my Mother’s genealogy information.
Do you have some old photographs you have not reviewed in a while? Do you have some memorabilia that can help you relive old memories? I have found music to be an effective tool to take me back to a specific place and time. Perhaps you should dig up some music from your past and take a trip down memory lane. Do not be too busy with the cares of the day that you forget the past. Let your past experiences and memories help build you into a better person.
Make the most of this day!