I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a long time now, and I think it’s about time to get it out. I mean it has been nearly two years since our little girl was born. I also just happened to be listening to some old Metallica on the trip down from JoBurg, with out Steph and Elli and realised that things have changed, but there is a bit of pain that has gone with that change.
Let me start at the beginning, way back when I had everything worked out, or so I thought. Back when I was sure I would never be a dad and when all that mattered was living in KZN, riding bikes and making it through each month with a little cash for a take-away and a bottle of wine. We just believed so strongly that we would never be parents, that we skated through and didn’t much care if work was crap and bosses sucked, as long as we could have our house, with a DH track in the back.
Don’t misunderstand me: working at Maverick Cycles for Mike sucked big time, but when I got home, and if Mike hadn’t tried to kill me with stress that day, we where happy. Safe in the knowledge that it would be just us for the rest of our lives and, except for parents and siblings who may need our help someday (highly unlikely with our very smart families), we would just have to look out for our selves.
This is where that saying “Assumption is the mother of all…” comes from. Never assume anything! And never give up everything to chase a dream, if you are not willing to accept responsibility for changes that might happen. Stuff happens. Sometimes it’s bad stuff and sometimes it’s awesome stuff, but stuff that makes you have to reassess things never the less.
Living in KZN and doing Downhill Mountain Cycling, we became – for better or worse – part of that crowd. I’d like to think that people liked me, and I helped out in what ever way I could. I got the Maverick Cycles team to races and prepped bikes and had a lot of fun racing my bike too. And I earned the nickname C-Rad! It was yelled at me from the side of the World Cup track as I rode past, it was the way people referred to me, and I really liked it. I was set, I just needed to find a better job where I didn’t work for a man who believed his own shit and we were pretty set. Steph was doing okay with photography and had some new business ideas and we were going places.
Then we fell pregnant – and I think more than just a few people were surprised – and things changed. I mean a lot of things changed. You can’t be married for going on ten years, with no kids and not get a bit used to a certain way things happen.
So back to Metallica: ‘Where do I take this pain or mine? I run, but it stays right by my side’. That might sound really negative, but if you hear me out, you’ll see that I am beginning to make peace with it. There is part of me that is really conscientious, really thinks things through and really just wants to do the best for everyone around me. There is another part though, that still doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but wants to take risks. The second part, is the one who loves trying to jump higher and further on my DH bike, who wants to live on the beach for a while, who wants to pack up his family and travel around Europe and eventually North America, in an old VW minibus with our bikes and cameras, making some kind of rad docu.
That tension between the two, is the pain inside. To borrow more of Metallica’s lyrics, ‘It’s the struggle within’. When I married Steph, the struggle started again. I had to be a big boy and look after my wife. I put pressure on myself and while I can work under pressure, I can’t work under the pressure I put on me. Things settled down and the move to Natal helped to alleviate the pressure, AND I could really enjoy my riding. And then Eliana arrived and the pressure started again. Work was stressful as Maverick started to fail and Mike started to look at others to blame. Then I moved to another bike shop and that was worse because I was promised a lot and that was all lies. And all along there was this little person I didn’t really know how deal with.
The responsible guy was taking on the adventures guy and neither was winning. I love my little girl, always have, since the moment I met her. In fact I realise that I have only truly fallen in love twice in my life: once when I met Stephanie and again when I met Eliana. The two women who can get me to do anything in this world. But all this falling in love made me re-think the risks, the adventure and most of all the plan. I mean… What plan?
With a Standard 9 and not much in the way of any other education, I don’t have much in the way of options. I just didn’t think it through back then and now I have to take responsibility for more than just one life. But how? Most parents will agree that looking out for your child’s future is the most important thing. I mean that’s what my folks did, it’s what Steph’s folks do and it’s what everyone expects me to do. But is it all I want to do for my kid? Do I not also want to teach her to follow her heart? To dream big? And also, along with that, to learn from my failures as well as my success?
I feel bad for some of the stuff that I’ve done in my life. I feel like I have taken advantage, gotten away with so much. I have been given hand outs by so many. Been sponsored so much stuff and so much money, and that is how we have made it through. It’s not just stuff and money though, I have gotten away with some pretty big crashes on my DH bike and, that is even more crazy. The stuff I’ve walked away from – with little to no real injury – makes my blood run cold.
Getting to the point, a friend shared an analogy with me recently and I couldn’t help think about that in the car, on the drive, listening to Metallica. He compared doing dangerous things for recreational prepossess to two jars. One is full of nuts and the other is empty. Every time you take a risk, it’s like taking a nut out of the full jar and putting it in the empty one. The full jar is your jar of luck and the empty one is experience.
Eventually you will run out of luck, but will have tons of experience to keep you safe. Experience may tell you exactly how to pump the face of a double, go light off the lip and soar through the air and land perfectly, soaking up the transition. Experience may also tell you, “Don’t be a fool, all the will in the world is not going to make you clear that gap!” So it’s a great analogy.
I worry that I may have wasted some of the luck nuts by not learning the experiences I needed to though, and now my luck jar is empty and my experience jar is only half full. The experience jar is also making me think long and hard about taking any more gap jumps. It’s telling me to keep my feet on the ground and focus my efforts on looking after my family.
How do I teach my daughter to dream if I don’t? I don’t know, but I want to be a good C-Dad and that means I’m going to start somewhere. To borrow a line from Step into Liquid – I need to come off the beach, put on my hard shoes and get a real job.
To be continued…