Friday, August 10, 2012

Helmets






Helmets

Here’s another “old dog in a new world” thought:

I was walking along the wooded and nearly deserted country road that runs past my Adirondack mountain cabin last week when one of the few neighbors we have rode by on her old Schwinn bike – and she was wearing a helmet.  And this started me thinking about how things have changed.

Most of us learned to ride a bike long before helmets were strongly recommended and universally accepted. We learned to ride by having our parents run alongside us and then letting us go.  Back then it was more about avoiding the shrubs, and our parents never mentioned wearing a helmet. Fact is: we’d have thought it childish to wear one, even though we really were children.

Bikes then had one gear and no handbrakes – we’d work like crazy going up hills and then speed like fools going down, and the brakes on the pedals often tended to cause the bike to fishtail.  More than once I wiped out and skidded along on the roadside cinders.  All my friends had similar (or worse) accidents, and still, nobody wore a helmet.

And then, overnight, nobody rode a bike without a helmet. I was driving by then and would walk before I’d get my bike back out.  So when I finally did get back on a bike it seemed awkward to use a helmet – after all, I wasn’t raised having to wear one, so I didn’t.  But the baby boomers had children of their own; I had a child and worried about her safety: so I made sure she had and wore a helmet.  And because I wanted to be a good role model, I had to wear one too.  And just like that, the world – at least for me and all the other boomers, as it related to helmets, changed.

It’s interesting how we go from cool to responsible, especially when there are others who rely on our acting responsibly.  And it’s interesting how many of the things that were acceptable when we were growing up became unacceptable along the way. Many of these things had to be learned, or maybe the things we used to do had to be unlearned.  Is that what growing up is?  

We think we know so much, and then we find we don’t.  We think we’re cool, until the definition of cool changes.  In this Internet age of information overload, it’s a wonder that more time isn’t spent unlearning. The fact is that one of the only things we can count on is change, and it’s mostly for the better. If we’re honest with ourselves, and open to change, it’s wise to understand that things like helmets are best learned later than not.

My message this week is about how proud you’ll be when you learn new things:

"When faced with a challenge, look for a way, not a way out."  
-David Weatherford

David Weatherford is a child psychologist with published poems in "Chicken Soup for the Soul", and he is the author of "Slow Dance", a poem widely reproduced throughout the Internet.

What do you look for in life each day? Let’s start by admitting that life is full of challenges – and each one represents an opportunity.  What you do with each of those opportunities is the measure of your effectiveness – sort of like your personal report card. When presented with a challenge, do you look at it as something positive – a chance to show what you can do with all the knowledge skills and abilities you have; or do you see it as an obstacle or hassle – something that you grudgingly have to deal with? Either way you’ll have to tackle it, so you might as well view that opportunity as chance to show what you know and can do.  But if you approach it with a negative attitude, whatever you then do won’t be nearly as good as it could or should be.  And that’s the challenge – to look for a way, not a way out. Approach life’s challenges with a positive attitude today!

Stay well!

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