Being positive is a choice. Truck versus bicycle – 10 lessons.

Lesson number one; a truck is a formidable opponent.

Human flesh and bone is no match for a truck moving at speed – probably no match regardless of the speed.  For that matter, tar is also a force to be reckoned with. I am an Ironman on paper only, that much is now abundantly clear to me.

My very best ‘tuck and roll’ turned into a ‘tuck and smear’…

Lesson number two; stealth is not to be underestimated.

I didn’t hear it coming. A truck the size of a small building snuck up behind me with the stealth of a hunting leopard, but with 16 times the speed and none of the finesse.

20131208_100049_1Lesson number three; cycling apparel should come with a warning label that reads; “resists wind, but not hard surfaces.”

This lesson is self-explanatory, and my bib-shorts are evidence to the lesson.

Lesson number four; disaster strikes unexpectedly.

21 Years of cycling… Accident free and invincible.

I was happily lost in Sunday cycling dreamland. Putting the hammer down on my imaginary cycling partners. Crashes are for all the other cyclists…

Lesson number five; shock and pain are ugly twin sisters.

I still haven’t figured out which was worse; the shock of the unexpected, lying scribbled on the tarmac squinting into the sun, wondering how I’d gotten there. Or the stabbing pain that seemed to come from everywhere all at once.

Lesson number six; pain doesn’t trump outrage and indignation.

The driver didn’t stop, didn’t even slow down, not even a smidgen. Neither did any motorist mind you… Who cares about the pain… How dare he!?! Here I am laying in an ugly mess on the tar, the result of his negligence, and he disappears into the Joburg smog.

I swore a lot.

I shouted words I didn’t know that I knew.

Lesson number seven; road rules only apply to those who are pedantic enough to follow them.

I was right, he was wrong. The yellow line belongs to the cyclist. A cyclist takes up an entire lane. Vehicles are not permitted to drive on the left of the yellow line. Well, that’s what the rulebook says anyway…

Truck driver rule number 1: the road belongs to the biggest.

Lesson number eight; the fable that “chicks dig scars” is false.

I have seen no measurable increase in female attention since the incident. In fact if the ugly truth be known, I have seen no attention whatsoever. Which of course makes Keryn very happy…

Personally I’m gutted, good scars have been wasted.

Lesson number 9: there is no lesson number 9, it purely appeals to my OCD nature to have ten lessons. number ten; setbacks need not actually set you back.

Setbacks and hardships, accidents and incidents, negative life happenings, can either affect your future, or can mean absolutely nothing going forward besides being a good story. You can decide, it’s actually a choice.

Granted, some incidents are far harder to get through than others, but there really are only two distinct groups of people.

There are those who assume the victim role at any opportunity. They will tell everyone whom they meet about all the negative things that have ever happened to them. They live in the past, and gradually do less and less for fear of all the bad things that might happen, due to all of the bad things that have already happened. Always looking for the next excuse to throw a pity party, they are avid followers of bad news. In fact, bad news seems to follow them.

And then there are those who pick themselves up, brush themselves off and move forward in life. Pragmatic and stoic to the core. Life hands out lemons and nobody ever guaranteed you a free ride nor a pain-free ride in life. They wear the scars as a reminder of what they have been through to reach their present disposition.

They choose to learn from the tough times and avoid the victims. That’s a pretty good motto I reckon. You will always find the bad if you look for it, but guess what, you’ll always find the good if you choose to look for it too.

Hardship produces great character if only you’ll allow it to.

So I choose to accept that the risk of cycling is ‘Tarmac-time’. I am grateful for every moment that I get to spend on the freedom that is a bike. I will take all necessary precautions, and ride defensively, but recognize that sometimes no matter what…life happens. And when it does, I need to climb back on as soon as possible.

And besides, the odds remain in my favour.

21 years, only one measly accident.

Opportunity is a confusing concept.

169How do you really know what is in the best interests of your kids?  They aren’t you, and each one is so different.

Every parent wants the best for their kids, regardless of who the parents are and regardless of their circumstances.

We want to provide opportunities we might not have had ourselves.  And if we cannot provide our kids with opportunities whilst they’re growing up, we sure as hell want to be able to set them up for their future.

But opportunity is a very relative term.

Many parents in South Africa would like nothing more than to provide for the basic needs of their children. A roof over their kids’ heads, regular meals, or maybe just a flushing toilet and a basic education of sorts. Let alone their own bedroom and the latest Transformer or Barbie doll.

Poles apart, you’ll find wealthy parents who believe that opportunity means expensive private schooling, international tertiary education, and pretty much anything else that their money can buy.

Somewhere in the middle the average parents encourage their kids to play sport, pursue cultural interests, and get good grades. Opportunity for these parents relates to social status, religious life-ever-afters, and perhaps even any passport other than a South African one.

My viewpoint as a dad is that all of the things I’ve mentioned above – whilst I’m not knocking any of them –  mean very little  unless your children feel loved, important, and secure in who they are. And to a very large extent that’s your job as a parent.

What I know for sure is that opportunity is not necessarily a thing, an object to be provided, a certificate, or a piece of paper.

I’ve seen far too many young adults fail because they were spoilt and over protected. They never learned to face their fears and overcome failure because mommy or daddy always jumped in to shield them from the ugly side of life. Standing on your own two feet is pretty hard when you’ve never had to do it before.

I’ve seen far too much wasted potential resulting from a total lack of parenting stability. One or both parents MIA. One or both parents emotionally unstable. Parents who just don’t spend enough time with their children, or who force adult issues on their kids.

And I’ve seen far too many graduates battling to pay the bills because they are academically brilliant but suck at life skills and interpersonal relationships.

From where I stand, the greatest gift is the gift of self-belief, of self-confidence and of independence.

Gifts that come from parents who encourage their children to dream, to believe in something greater for themselves, and to believe that there is absolutely nothing that they cannot achieve if they are prepared to believe and work hard. Parents who encourage as much social interaction as possible, and encourage their kids to be independent from a young age.

Parents who provide stability, predictability, dependability, security, and solid roots. Who promote emotional independence, positive habits, and routine.

Parents who impart mechanisms for the handling of failure and of defeat. Because defeat and failure are inevitable.

And preferably, two equally involved parents, no matter if they live apart.

girlsSkill-sets can be learned, passports can be gained, money can be earned, but self-confidence is hard to develop later in life. Ask me, I know all too well. I have struggled most of my life to develop self-confidence.

Consider for a moment the tycoon, Donald Trump. All the money and power in the world, but still such an insecure, small man inside. Hence the trophy wife, the comb over and the need to splash his power and influence across the globe. His need to defend himself by bullying his haters on Twitter.  All hinting at compensation for a lack of self-confidence and needs that were not met as a child. My opinion only I admit…

Would I wish that for my children? Absolutely not!

Intrinsically we are subjective beings, and it’s almost impossible not to project our own fears and shortcomings onto our children, but our job as parents is to do our damnedest not to.

I intend to keep trying my best. Only time will tell.