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Experience is not What Happens to You

December 12, 2009

“Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.” – Aldous Huxley –

What are we really learning from the things that happen to us and the soCat called mistakes we make? We can learn from both, the good and the bad things that happen in our lives, but I believe there are reasons why things happen – there are no mistakes, but an opportunity to learn. If we are not attentive to our thinking, when things happen to us, we could determine what we don’t want to transpire, but leave little room for change, regarding our actions – to do same thing, the same way, while expecting different results, is a form of insanity.

In the summer of 1970, after begging for weeks to visit my aunt and uncle, the day had finally arrived! It would be the time of my life.

My cousins were teenagers, and busy with activities of their own. It wasn’t long before I began missing my little brothers – I missed having someone to play with. After telling my aunt that I wanted to go home, she said, “You can ride Pam’s bike if you want to. Just stay on our street.”

As I pulled the big bike out of the garage, a thrill welled up inside me. I had never been on a bike like this one. As I climbed onto the big blue bike, I felt big too. I had to push one peddle down at a time. As I, pressed one peddle down the other peddle came up, meeting my other foot. I rode to the end of the street and turned around at the Burger King. A funny thing happened after I turned around.

Kid on bikeI looked down at the pavement and noticed that the road was moving beneath me just like it did when I looked down from our car. It was cool! Fascinated by this, I began to peddle faster and faster and faster. The fascination grew stronger the faster I peddled. Suddenly, I experienced a new sensation! To my dismay, I had hit a parked car. Climbing down from the hood of the car, feeling embarrassed, I began looking around hoping no one had seen me.

After climbing back onto the big bike I began peddling very slowly, thinking that I needed to watch where I was going. My thoughts expanded to the idea of running into a moving vehicle and determination to be careful, formed. Keeping my eyes on what was ahead I safely reached my aunt’s house and turned around, heading back to the Burger King. As I peddled my mind stayed on the task, and passing by the car reminded me to pay attention.

Smooth going. I turned around at the Burger King and unknowingly, my eyes focused on the road again. I began peddling faster and faster until…Bang! I was climbing back down from that same-parked car, looking and hoping that no one had noticed. After picking Pam’s bike up once again, I began thinking in terms of “what if”. “What if that had been a moving vehicle?” “What if I scratched their car?” “What if they were watching me?” Nearing my aunt’s house, I once again told myself that I needed to keep my eyes off the road and watch where I was going. I turned around and headed back to the Burger King, whistling as I rode along.

They say that the third time is the charm. I turned around at the Burger KingOld Car and headed toward my destination. Now you might think that my destination was my aunt’s house, but apparently it was that parked car. Boom…I was once again climbing down from the hood realizing that I had been watching the road go by underneath me! This time I began to think differently. Along with my previous “what if” thoughts, I added another one. When I reached my aunt’s house, I parked the bike and went inside. The thought I “should” stop riding this bike, prompted me to park it.

Looking back, I laugh each time I think of the people who owned the car. Imagine the old person inside after he sees me climb down the first time, then the second. I can just picture it, “Hey Judy. Come watch this. Wait, wait…here she comes.”

The incident helped me see what I didn’t want to happen, but what did I learn? I learned that there is a big difference in watching where you are going and keeping your eyes on the road; I learned that I could imagine possibilities and probabilities; mostly though, I learned that it is humiliating to hit a parked car, and it hurts too.

The great thing about what we go through – good or bad – is that with some thought, we can gain an understanding of the way our minds work for us, and at times, against us – even at the age of eight, I understood the danger of not being able to stay disciplined, and made the right decision to park the bike. In addition, I understand now, that for me, after I try something three times, if it’s not working, it’s time to try a new approach.

Big Blue Bike


2 Comments to “Experience is not What Happens to You”

  1. J. Ann says:

    Your story was very vivid. I was exhausted, when I finished riding “the big blue bike” with you, and maybe even a little sore from hitting the car so many times.

    I was also able to identify with becoming distracted from time to time in my own life and acknowledge that I have been guilty of insanity a time or two in my life.

    You make an excellent point, when you say, “to do same thing, the same way, while expecting different results, is a form of insanity.

    Keep Up The Good Work!