It took me a long time to learn how to ride a bicycle. So long in fact that it was only out of embarrassment, not necessity, that my training wheels were removed. Because of this mechanical amputation, I wasn’t easily lulled into what I believed to be the false sense of stability that other children embraced in two wheels. I would get going on my bicycle, and then like the boy trying to drink a glass of milk in My Life As A Dog, I would become acutely aware of what most would take for granted. I would grow nervous at how unnatural it seemed. I would wobble. I would crash. I would lose my balance.
Balance is a fascinating word. It can refer to both the abstract and the concrete, but no matter what’s being balanced – a bankbook, your diet, or your body – we understand that an effort is underway
to ensure equilibrium. Just as I struggled as a youngster to keep my bicycle from teetering too far right or too far left, I’ve throughout my life to find an improved balance between cynicism and naivety.
I’m more prone to falling on the cynical side, but there are elements in my life to which I choose to remain naive. For many years, I believed in Lance Armstrong. In fact, my defense of the cyclist was so ardent as to diverge from several personal principles to which I ascribe. In this sense, Armstrong made me a hypocrite who speaks and writes of open-minded analysis, and yet remained closed to the idea that a personal hero in his sport and outside of it might be something more (and also less, definitely less) than the construct of him that I had created.