Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Inspiration from Danny MacAskill (31 Days, Day 8)

Click here for Table of Contents for 31 Days of Awesome

I've been trying to teach Zack how to ride a bike for a long, long time. His dad has tried, his trainer has tried, but we all are fighting his proprioperception issues.  Proprioperception is, in a nutshell, where you feel your body is due to stimuli in your body.  Zack has to convince his mind that the ladder he's about to climb really isn't as tall as Everest, even though his body is telling him, quite vehemently, to back away.

The only place he feels 100% himself is in the water, and that's because the water pushes on his body in equal ways. I had him in the water at six months old, he earned his deep water swimming wristlet when he had just turned four, and he was on a swim team just as he turned five. To say that gym class is not always a barrel of giggles is an understatement. We tried putting him into various sports before he started school, but it was just not at all for him. All he got out of it was fear and frustration.

We tried everything. Razor scooters were the closest he got to being able to figure out balance.  We bought a tandem bicycle so Zack could get the feeling of balancing AND pedaling without the fear of falling. Think about it for a second -- most of us don't think twice about getting on a bike, pushing off, and pedaling. We don't think about balancing until it's time to make a turn, and our body just does it. For Zack, it doesn't.  It could, and I hope it will, but if you have the perception that you're not on your own bike, but THIS kind of bike.....

public domain photo

... well, learning to ride a bike can be daunting.

It's hard to know when and how hard to push your child, but knowing he's been through occupational therapy at three and has already accomplished so very much that we weren't sure he ever would, we've decided to be pretty calm about it.  That doesn't change how he feels, though. He really, really wants to ride a bike. He just has to find the courage to believe in himself.

Enter Danny MacAskill.

Danny MacAskill is a Scottish cyclist who tackles terrains I wouldn't even walk on, let alone bike on. I ran across this video, "The Ridge", and I hope you'll take seven minutes out of your life to watch it. Not only is Danny an inspiration, Scotland is just freaking gorgeous.

Why do I think Danny is an inspiration?  I mean, if after watching this video with Zack I said, "See, you can do anything you want!", I'd have an eleven-year old who very well might feel worse about not being able to ride a bike on flat sidewalk, and therefore never picks one up again.

No, Danny and people like him are inspiring because they've found "their thing" and didn't let time or age get in the way.  Some people find "their thing" at age three. Some find it in middle age.  Some don't find it until they're in their senior years (Grandma Moses, anyone?). Some people find several "things" throughout their lives. For a while, my "thing" was a proficiency in languages. Later, I started selling my jewelry at 36 or so. And I have a feeling I'm not done finding "things" to make me go, 'YEAH! I did that!".

My first attempt at etching.  The hardest part was filing down the back of the bird so it would fit under the mica.

That's the message I wanted Zack to take from the video.  Very few people, I explained, have such a spectacular "thing", but I dare say that most people feel as wonderful about their particular skill as Danny MacAskill does (just without the Red Bull endorsement!). 

You are never to young or too old to learn, to discover your "thing", the skill that makes you happy. Zack could swim practically before he could walk. I'm 45 and I'm cautiously scratching the surface of new things myself.   YES, it can be scary.  YES, you can fail. But each failure teaches you something and the important thing is to keep going. Maybe being a tight rope walker is not going to be in the cards for you, but being a ballroom dancer is. 

And for Zack, whether he learns to ride a bike or not, he will at least know that there's a whole word of "things" out there yet to be discovered, at any age whatsoever.

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup" via Kalmbach Publishing.


  1. You have put into words precisely what I've been streaming through my brain lately. I used to love the fact that Julia Child was 37 when she figured out cooking was her thing because I wasn't yet 37. Now that I'm in my 40s, I think of women like Grandma Moses! Thank goodness we're capable of continuous change and learning new things. Wouldn't life be boring if we were exactly the same at 67 as we were at 23?

  2. This is such an inspirational post Lori. There are so many people in the world that just give up because it is easier. I say fill your brain with lots of wrinkles. Learn all you can.

  3. This is an amazing post Lori. I hope that Zack finds his thing. Many years ago I read about a study of people who lived to be 100. The one thing that they all had in common was that they continued to learn new things all of their lives. Learning new things stimulates the brain and can help find the thing that is your passion.Yes life would be boring if we stayed the same the whole time.

  4. Loved this post! I am a bit of a late bloomer in many aspects of life. But this article gave me hope and reminded me it's okay to do things at my own pace. Some days I DO feel like giving up. Today wasn't one of them. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Danny MacAskill is phenomenal! Thank you for this post! There's a big lesson in it. I can't help it but mention that I had a career as an interpreter with three foreign languages (now an office rat for a trade company) and started crafting only five years ago at the age of fifty. And I am incredibly happy I did!

  6. Anonymous6:43 AM

    Lori, I read and re-read this post. It's so important to instill a sense of "adventure" in children. By that I mean, helping them to have no fear to try new things, to LEARN, all their lives. I love the way you relate with Zack

  7. that video is amazing! Thanks for sharing it and for the wonderful, inspiring post, Lori.

  8. The videotape was amazing we allcanlearn fhis lesson each have our own things to overcome. Zach is. An amazing boy growing up to be a good man be proud mom bikes razors he will in "zach" time but the fime with him precious

  9. If Zachary is comfortable in water, why not put the bike in water? Yes he may not get the actual feel of riding a bike, but it seems he's comfortable in the water. Maybe he'd feel less intimidated after experiencing the bike in water.

  10. Wow! What a brave soul. That was crazy scary. I got nauseous just watching it. Here's a video of another incredibly inspiring little girl who accomplishes what seems virtually impossible.

  11. Anonymous2:49 PM

    Danny is almost super human; and though I may not be able to ride like that, I do hope to visit Skye one day. You will find that the etching will get pretty addictive and I love how you little box turned out.

  12. Amazing post. As coincidence would have it, I came across that video only last week, and actually have it saved in Evernote for amazing stuff to share on my blog. :)

    I'm 38 now, and currently at a point where I'm wondering about what I've done with my life so far, and where to go from here. This year especially has been a rollercoaster right off the bat, full of ups and downs and changes. Some positive, some negative, and most of them scary as hell. It did, however, a good job at shaking things up to the point it made me face things. Even though it's a "two steps forward, one step back thing", now I'm actively looking for help, and getting aware of possibilities and options I didn't even know I had.

    What struck me, lately I got told quite often: "You're only 38, you're still young" by a variety of persons, and it stunned me every single time, because I don't FEEL "still young". Most of the time I just feel tired, and weary, and exhausted, and – yes – old.

    It's comments like these, and inspiring posts like yours, that make me sit down, and look back, and realize just how far I've come this year alone. Thank you. ♥


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