Previously on The Essential Condiment of Failure, young Anusha desperately wants to learn how to ride a bike. But alas, there is always a price to pay before attaining success: failure.
I toppled off the bicycle, scraping my knees against the concrete. An unmistakable surge of pain took hold of both my legs and arms, which I had stretched out in front of me to prevent the worst. My cousins, who were stunned into inaction by the travesty that had just unfolded before them, rushed to my aid.
After several frantic, “Are-you-okays?” and unprofessional medical exams , I slowly rose to my feet, brushed myself off, and went inside for cookies and milk.
At this point you may be thinking-Seriously? Cookies and milk? That was your heroic comeback after a harrowing defeat?
And to this snarky and judgmental remark, I would say of course it was. As the young and easily bruised (literally) child that I was, I needed some time to recover from my mild and superficial injuries.
Nonetheless, several chocolate chip cookies, two band aids, two knee pads, and a helmet later, I returned to the daunting two-wheeled monster with renewed confidence. Although my cousins exchanged uncertain glances as I saddled on the small seat, this time I was sure; yes, this time I would surely master the art of riding a bike!
Unable to contain myself, I took several confident steps forward, carefully guiding the bicycle across the sidewalk. And for a couple of seconds, I actually attained balance. I felt the sidewalk move steadily past my feet, the cool air rush in my ears, all before experiencing the all-too-familiar sensations of imbalance, disorientation, and fear of the imminent fall. As I felt the old and cruel pull of gravity pull the side of my bike, I quickly leapt from it to avoid the fall.
Having been abandoned of its master, the poor red beast careened across the sidewalk until it slammed against the pavement with resounding finality. Displeased by my second failure, I gave an exasperated sigh. But because I had not sustained any injuries, there was nothing that stopped me from trying again (Envision young Anusha falling off her bike). And again (Young Anusha frantically chases her bike down a hill). And again (Crash).
Needless to say, I failed an innumerable number of times in my efforts to ride a bike. Everyday after school, I would confront the red bike, glowing in all of its fury and bright consternation.
You think you can ride me? What makes you think I’d take you anywhere? the slender, metallic beast seemed to spit venomously at the sight of me.
Determined to prove the derisive voice wrong, I continually endured the pain and humiliation of habitual defeat. Until at last, I found myself steadily balancing on the bike for an extended period of time. I tentatively peddled to find that I pushed myself forward with ease, feeling the cool air rush past my ears.
Exhilarated by the fact that I had not yet been acquainted with the concrete as I had been so many times before, I peddled with increased vigor and incredible excitement. I was riding a bike! Not a tricycle! A BI-cycle! That meant it had two wheels! This was for adults!
I was so overcome from my victory that I rode around my neighborhood several times, practically in a perpetual state of bliss and disbelief, until I finally came to a stop. My legs aching from the strain, I leaned against the side of a brick building, exhausted but incredibly happy.
After weeks of unending failure, I had finally been rewarded with shining success. If we would go back to the idea that “failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor,” mastering the art of riding a bike would be like an ice cream sundae, and failure would be the thick, chocolate syrup drizzled on top. It would be the rainbow sprinkles that gave it its crunch and appeal. It would be the maraschino cherry, dyed and sweetened beyond recognition. At this point, if I haven’t instilled you with either a great appreciation of the importance of failure or a desperate need for ice cream, then I don’t think I’ve done my job.