In my entire life, there are only a handful of things I know, or knew, how to do well. The first thing I mastered was riding Lady, my father's quarter horse mare. I had no fear. I knew I would not fall off. I knew she would not run away. The very few times she exerted her considerable will, I simply had the confidence and trust to insist she go my way. She always did. I rode without saddle and often barefoot. From her warm and broad back, I was the ruler of all I surveyed, without fear, and safe in the care of a loving horse whose gift to me was empowerment.
It was many long years before I mastered anything again. I went to school. I learned to swim. I learned to read. I got a job and made friends and learned to drive a car. But never again did I engage in anything that empowered me, bolstered my self-esteem or confidence - until I got my first Harley.
I was not a consummate rider. I had to always think ahead as to where I would stop, where I would park, where I would ride. I was too short and had to manage the logistics of moving an eight hundred pound machine safely and in an upright position. It is entirely possible to bring the bike to a stop over a low spot and my feet not touch the ground. It is very embarrassing for a rider to drop her motorcycle. Eventually, I became a good rider. I could handle my Harley. I knew it well - how far I could lean in a curve. I knew how fast I could safely ride, and I knew exactly how hard I was willing to apply the brakes - which was not very hard. I avoided sudden braking with everything at my disposal at all times.
There were times riding when all was right in my universe, when there was perfect attunement and agreement with the environment, the machine, the road, and my intent. It was wonderful. It felt wonderful.
My son knows all about mastering a physical activity. He learned to walk with almost no effort. I played catch with him when he was just a little guy and signed him up for baseball at age six. The first year the players were allowed to steal bases in Little League baseball, he effortlessly ran backwards as gracefully as he could run forward, either in a hot box, or pressuring home plate. He was just a little boy with perfect grace. When he grew up and played basketball, he could run backwards the entire length of the court, fearlessly confident and hyper focused on the ball. He was something to see.
He snowboards now. I have never seen him on the snow, but I am certain he is as beautiful at that as he was playing sports growing up. I hope he continues to add to his list of mastered physical activities - that he does not allow time and the decline of his body rob him of the chances to enjoy the physical dance this world provides for us the way I have.
My list is woefully and shamefully short.