Today, as I walked my son to school, I saw a girl riding a bicycle in front of us and in that moment the notion struck me, there was a time when the bicycle didn't even exist nor did the concept of human beings balancing on two wheeled contraptions propelling themselves down a path. Nowadays, biking is a commonplace activity and skill easily acquired in childhood. Once you've learned and gotten the feel for it, it is indeed "just like riding a bike", something you don't forget or even give a second thought to when you are pedalling along.
I became curious about the origin of the bicycle and discovered that the earliest moment a human being was said to have balanced on a two- wheeled machine was in 1816 on the draisine, invented by Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun of Germany. Apparently, he created it to help him get around the royal gardens quicker. However, this all-wood thingamajig didn't have pedals or cranks. It was more like a wheeled hobby-horse that one could push by foot and glide upon.
Nobody thought of putting pedals or cranks on the draisine until nearly 50 years later when it morphed into the velocipede, also known as the "boneshaker" due to the discomfort that went with riding a machine made entirely out of wood along the cobblestone streets of the day. It took a series of design innovations and the evolution of metallurgy for the bicycle to become something that was both manoeuvrable and affordable to the masses. In addition, in 1887, Irish veterinary surgeon, John Boyd invented the pneumatic tire to give his son's tricycle a more comfortable ride and save the rest of us from a bone- shaking experience.
We often take our modern day conveniences for granted and don't think about the thought, experimentation, innovation and arduous effort that went into making them available to us. Once we learn to ride a bike, we don't usually think about the fear and trepidation of getting on for the first time, trying to find our balance, learning to brake and shift gears, falling, gaining momentum, and finally pedalling away as if bike riding was a skill we were born with.
Luckily, we may rely on the efforts of our predecessors to have gained access to a what is now an ubiquitous form of transportation and source of fun. We hop on bikes to get us where we need to go exploring the world around us more quickly than we did by foot. We don't often think about the origin of the bicycle or our first forays into riding. We just ride. And, it does feel as "easy as riding a bike". Something once you learn, you do without much thought. You embody the experience of it and it becomes second-nature. You don't ask yourself if it's possible for human beings to travel around balancing on two wheeled machines, you just DO IT.
As visionaries, entrepreneurs and creators of culture we are also innovators and inventors paving the way for future generations. Our work paves the way for others to do even more amazing things down the road. Things that may not seem possible today. Yet, it is the vision of creating something new and our curiosity that drives us forward into the unknown. When we are able to open ourselves up to the possibility of things that don't exist now existing in the future and allow inspiration in, we become the instruments of social change and have the opportunity to experience ourselves as creators.
Sometimes we get blocked or stuck and can't imagine things being any different than they are. And, there are moments when even the possibility of creating the life we desire for ourselves feels very remote. What do we do in those times?
Well, it certainly doesn't serve us to focus upon the long road ahead or how far away the dream may be relative to where we are now. So, we start somewhere. We experiment. We take risks. We do and we learn. And in taking those actions, often inspiration strikes and we gain some momentum. Then, we are riding along forgetting that once upon a time we didn't know how to ride.
I believe we can rise to our personal and societal challenges by embracing the spirit of adventure and the enduring wisdom of nature.