What Holds You Back?

What Holds You Back?
Artwork by Sayan Nath on Unsplash

Hello Friend,

My daughter recently learnt how to ride a bicycle. I spent two weeks making her follow the basics, inspiring her to give up on the fear of falling. I had marked the first week to convince her that falling is how she will learn not to stay down. She should learn to get up and pedal again. It’s OK if you fall, you won’t cherish the efforts otherwise.

Once she had that thought imbibed, all I had to do was hold her and run along. I ran like crazy, like I had not in ages. I ran, and then I ran some more. Until one fine morning when I let her loose and saw her pedal along. I jogged next to her, a proud smile on my face. In being a parent, I was reliving a phase of my childhood.

Yesterday, we rode our bicycles together, with her alongside me when we came across a kid learning with training wheels. I could read her eyes wonder why didn’t I get those added wheels for balancing. I planned to tell her that it would have taken her longer to learn with that support attached. My mind was already racing along, talking to her, telling her.

The artificial sense of support holds you back, dear. Just like me running alongside you, never releasing you, will. I will always hold you back from riding away, from taking control of your path. I can make you aware of your fears, but it is you who has to surmount them.

However, she never asked. I never said. Maybe, she already knew.

What are the training wheels in your life - supporting you but thereby preventing you from taking the flight? Anyway, with that said, here is a selection of three brilliant works of writing.


"Attitude" by Margaret Atwood

[N]obody ever tells you, but did you know that when you have a baby your hair falls out? Not all of it, and not all at once, but it does fall out. It has something to do with a zinc imbalance. The good news is that it does grow back in. This only applies to girls. With boys, it falls out whether you have a baby or not, and it never grows back in; but even then there is hope. In a pinch, you can resort to quotation, a commodity which a liberal arts education teaches you to treat with respect, and I offer the following: “God only made a few perfect heads, and the rest lie covered with hair.”

"Bookshop Memories" by George Orwell

Many of the people who came to us were of the kind who would be a nuisance anywhere but have special opportunities in a bookshop. For example, the dear old lady who ‘wants a book for an invalid’ (a very common demand, that), and the other dear old lady who read such a nice book in 1897 and wonders whether you can find her a copy. Unfortunately she doesn’t remember the title or the author’s name or what the book was about, but she does remember that it had a red cover. But apart from these there are two well-known types of pest by whom every second-hand bookshop is haunted. One is the decayed person smelling of old breadcrusts who comes every day, sometimes several times a day, and tries to sell you worthless books. The other is the person who orders large quantities of books for which he has not the smallest intention of paying.

"The Danger of Lying in Bed" by Mark Twain

I could read of railway accidents every day–the newspaper atmosphere was foggy with them; but somehow they never came my way. I found I had spent a good deal of money in the accident business, and had nothing to show for it. My suspicions were aroused, and I began to hunt around for somebody that had won in this lottery. I found plenty of people who had invested, but not an individual that had ever had an accident or made a cent. I stopped buying accident tickets and went to ciphering. The result was astounding. THE PERIL LAY NOT IN TRAVELING, BUT IN STAYING AT HOME.

Postscript

Have any recommendations or feedback for me? I’d love to hear from you. Just hit reply, or you can even email me.

Thank you for reading and sharing.

-Amit

Subscribe to Slanting Nib

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
jamie@example.com
Subscribe