“When you are riding a bike you are constantly on the edge of falling. It’s the forward movement that keeps you from falling.”
Eric Olson from the documentary “Wormwood”.
Wormwood is a Netflix docuseries that delves into the true life conspiracy surrounding the death of Frank Olson, Eric Olson’s father.
Frank Olson was a biochemist who worked at Fort Detrick. He died in 1952 by falling or jumping from the window of a New York hotel. That at least was the official story
In 1974 reports exposed the out of control CIA and its atrocities. One of these atrocities was the murder of Frank Olson. Turns out he was dosed without his knowledge with LSD which led to his death. It’s still not clear whether he was pushed out the window or under the influence of a hallucination jumped from the window.
I didn’t expect to get such a profound snippet of wisdom from watching this series. For decades I’ve been interested in the historical struggle between the individual and the state. Constantly probing the veracity of the limitless conspiracy theories on the internet. And this is one always struck me as perfect example of what individuals do when they have unlimited power and unlimited secrecy. They do terrible things in the name of national security and use their power to try and cover it up.
So I went into this to gain knowledge about a specific true life conspiracy and came out with a beautiful metaphor for life.
The quote from Eric Olson is so powerful because I know that I feel the worst emotionally when I’m not moving forward in life. When I’m feeling the most depressed is when I feel like I’ve fallen. Take the term depression. That word illicit a picture of someone laying on the ground incapable of movement.
For Eric this epiphany occurred to him because his father used to ride him around on a bike and after his fathers death he found comfort in riding. For him it took years but he kept moving forward and exposed the truth about his fathers death despite the government’s continually attempts to cover it up.
Keep moving forward is the key to life. You don’t know what tomorrow may bring. For a nine year old boy in 1952 it brought the death of his beloved father and a subsequent lifetime of trying to figure out what truly happened that night. But he succeeded in uncovering the truth despite the efforts against him of the most powerful security state in the world.
Events can knock us off our bike like running into a bush or receiving life altering news, or we can simply stop peddling and fall off because of self doubt. That’s what really derails life. It steals our momentum and causes us to fall. Getting back up can seem impossible and it seems the very universe itself is against us.
Sometimes in those darkest moments if we are unable to get back up on the bike than we can walk the bike to get moving forward again.
It’s slow progress but it’s still progress. Then we get strong enough to mount the bike once aboard it forces us to pedal. When we get into the current of life it forces us to keep moving as well. Our own biological needs do this on the most basic of levels.
No matter how depressed you are your body forces you to move. You have to get up to get water, eat, and go the bathroom. Even when you feel like your not moving forward at all maybe you are more than you think by simply staying alive.
I often don’t know what the next should be and in those moments of indecision I lose forward momentum. If I continue vacillating about my next move I stop peddling all together and fall off the bike of life.
I’ve been knocked down hundreds of times off by the events of life. Since I was eleven I’ve been in and out of hospitals, had twenty abdominal surgeries and suffered over a hundred bowel obstructions. Each time I’m sick I fall hard off the bike of life. And each time I have to get back on it.
During recovery it’s so hard to keep pedaling. I’m physically tired and in chronic pain but if I don’t keep moving forward in the different areas of my life I know it’s always harder to get started moving again then to keep moving once I’ve gained some momentum.
Many times it feels like my actions don’t have the ability to change my life for the better and I want to stop pedaling because I think what the hell is the point?
But I feel emotionally terrible when I stop pedaling. I’ve learned the hard way that Taking some action is better than no action at all. Ill repeat to myself “some is better than none”.
I always feel better when I read or write, cook for someone else or take care of a bill I’ve had lying around for a little too long. I know it doesn’t sound like pedaling very hard but for me at the moment it’s the best I can muster and that’s enough to keep me from falling.
“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Also watch Wormwood. Do your own research into the Illegal horrible atrocities that the people at the CIA have committed and how they basically got away with it. The State is inherently corrupt and to this day commits atrocities against people in American and abroad.
But don’t allow the corrupt nature of the State to prevent you from moving forward in your own life and pedaling as hard and as fast as you can. And if you fall for whatever reason you can always get back up.