‘No matter what we face, we all must face our moment of truth’.
There’s a time in a one’s life when you realise something’s not quite right. For me in recent weeks, I have had a few of those moments. It was in fact something which happened yesterday which prompted this post.
My seat’s been in the wrong position all along
A few days ago, I was on my bike which I’ve ridden for almost 3 years, when I realised that something was wrong. My seat was too far forward. Consequence is that whenever I cycle, I am forever shifting on the seat, trying to find a comfortable spot. I had been riding in an uncomfortable position for the past 3 years and hadn’t really realised this. I hadn’t realised that there was a more comfortable way of sitting on my bike. When I got home that day, I tried to shift the seat myself but because I had been riding it in that position for so long, it was hard to undo the bolt which keeps the seat in place. The following day, I found someone who was a bike mechanic and with little to no effort, she was able to find the right tool to undo the bolt and shift the seat back.
Result: I cycled home like a speed queen.
The height’s all wrong on my bike
Similarly, last year, I went on holiday and had the chance to cycle in beautiful parts of Europe like Montenegro and Slovenia. When I returned home, I realised that my bike seat was too low down. I am short but have long legs and a short torso. It was only by going abroad, riding a different bike that I was able to see there was a problem with the way I had been riding my bike. I raised my bike and suddenly I felt like a new person on my bike.
Result: cycling felt so much better. I was able to put much more power through the pedals.
Tales from the classroom – when the abnormal becomes normal
When I was a College teacher, I got used to all sorts of behaviour and students acting in ways which were far from ‘normal’. I remember a student lying in the middle of the road on a residential trip, another flipping a table over with all the force of Hulk (the Incredible, not Hogan), alcohol and drug use on those trips etc. I became accustomed to the behaviour. So much so that it became ‘normal’, expected even. In truth, not all my students showed such extreme behaviour. And even those who showed such behaviour were on the whole, individuals who deep down, had many wonderful traits.
I remember leaving the job and speaking to a colleague who also left. This colleague said that it was funny how accustomed we became to unacceptable behaviour that we now considered it ‘normal’ behaviour. My colleague said that it was only once they had left the job that they realised that what happened at times in our classrooms, was not alright. Something was wrong, all along. It’s just that we didn’t know it.
Of late, it has dawned on me that something’s not quite right. I’ve become so used to me and all my ways that some things which I thought were just me are not things I should accept as just a part of me. This may all sound a little cryptic but that’s okay. The important thing is that we all have moments of clarity in our life.
May we all have moments of clarity in our lives
The hamster spinning on the wheel may one day realise that something is not right – that there’s more to life than the wheel.
The person who thinks that a few drinks each night is harmless may realise one day that they are unable to stop drinking – that something’s not quite right.
Those living in abusive relationships who have become accustomed to being on the receiving end of violence in all its forms may one day realise that things are not right – that violence is not a ‘normal’ part of life.
Those aha!!! moments may be painful or come with regret or sadness or fear for the future but whatever that case, it means that we are more empowered to do what we need to do to change things. We cannot address an issue until we realise it’s an issue.
I am glad that I love to learn about myself and others. I love that I am willing to take on board the opinions and ideas of others. I am glad that I am willing to be honest with myself even when the result is a painful acceptance of my frailties and faults.
When the teacher becomes the student
I remember a student of mine. I have many memorable students. He used to come to me at the end of the day and ask about his performance and what he could do to improve. Now, I would not necessarily recommend such an in-depth daily assessment of oneself but what I loved most about this student was that he was willing to receive feedback from others, take it on board and use it to grow and progress in life.
I learnt so much from this student. Not least that the perception others have of us is sometimes just as important as the perception we have of ourselves. If others can see that something is wrong, then we must be willing to consider that maybe, just maybe there is something that’s not quite right.
Like the bolt on my bike seat, I know that habits and behaviours calcify the longer they are allowed to exist. But, I know too that finding the right person or support to help shift that seat is possible. At least, I hope it is. I know things do not have to be as they are at present. But it takes patience, a leap of faith and support to find a better way to live.