Four weeks ago I was riding my bicycle down a city street.
The guy in front of me was riding his bike slowly while talking with a woman who was jogging next to him. To my right were parked cars, and to my left was the empty street with light rail tracks.
I looked back and saw it was safe to pull out into the street so I could pass this slow biker. Casually, I coasted to my left. However, I didn’t take the angle over the rail tracks as severely as I should. In a moment, my front wheel slipped on the steel track, and slid into the groove. My bicycle stopped, but I kept moving forward.
I flew off my bicycle and landed on the pavement and rail tracks. My wrist smacked on the steel as I slammed down on my hip, elbow, and shoulder. The wind was knocked out of my lungs and for a few moments I’d passed out. My eyes opened looking down the steel rail at my arm as four people rushed to help me. I sat up, then cautiously stood, walked to the curb and sat down trying to pull myself together.
My wrist was in a lot of pain, my elbow was bleeding, my hip and shoulder were sore, but nothing was broken. Also, my bicycle was just fine, and I certainly hope that slow biker and the woman he was talking with were able to connect. It seems like I went through a lot of trouble for their sake. Oh, and I’ll answer the question everyone asked me over and over again – Yes. I was wearing a helmet. (Probably should have worn body armor too.)
Anyway, events moved forward with a trip to the emergency room, a couple x-rays, and a brace for my wrist, plus some Advil, and I was sent home. (Cost $1,300 – can you believe that nonsense? I’m glad I have insurance)
The upshot is I had to stop playing my violin for a few days. That was frustrating and made me grumpy. Practicing has become a real obsession and I didn't like just letting the violin sit there wondering what was going on. I took walks, read a couple of books, and even binge watched an entire season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" because it seemed to be an appropriate program to watch, considering my situation. I was really afraid I'd backslide, and all of my hard work would dissipate into thin air.
Once I did pick up the violin, with the brace still on my wrist, I played gingerly, just focusing on scales. To my astonishment it sounded good! I mean really good! I wasn’t pushing anything or trying anything complicated. I was just going as slowly as I could so I could minimize the pain, but my goodness! This was amazing!
For the next few days – and I’m still dealing with this – I went through my exercises and pieces slowly, methodically, and with frequent breaks. To my astonishment, the tone and quality of what I was playing sounded far better than anything I’d done up to this point.
So the lesson is a very basic one. It’s one we’ve all been taught, but often ignore because it takes up time. The lesson is this – slow down. Take your time. Let it build slowly. Go for the quality and not the speed records.
Also, you don’t have to fall off your bicycle. You don't have to have your hand I a brace that is so big you look like the creature from the Predator movies. Nor do you have to take pain pills to learn this obvious piece of technique.
By the way, it turns out I’m allergic to Advil and aspirin – they make my lips and tongue swell. Be careful with that stuff.
Take your time, don’t push it, and watch out for light rail tracks.
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