Expect Miracles Series
An American Woman Loses Her Bike in Amsterdam
By Lynn U. Stewart
Have you ever lost something and thought it would be gone forever? Well this is such a story…
I love my bike! One of the great things about living in Amsterdam is that bikes are not only a means of recreation, they are a primary means of transportation. That means that the biking days of childhood never have to end; biking allows me to feel forever young.
Several years ago, I knew I wanted a bike. I did a lot of research. I visited the local bike shop, asked 20 questions, and marveled at all the bikes hanging from the ceiling and mounted on the walls. That’s when I found the one.
It was an Aqua Batavus—a real Dutch bicycle with concealed chains and gears hidden behind a covered case. That meant I could wear a long dress or wide bottom trouser and never have to think about fabric getting into the gears, as they were neatly tucked away. After taking the bike for a spin, I knew I loved it.
Feeling uncertain as to whether I was really going to use a bicycle or not, I chose an infamous Mac-Bike rental for two weeks. However, I asked the bike shop for the “first right of refusal” if someone wanted to buy the Aqua Batavus I loved so dearly—I’d have first choice to purchase it. I wanted to test my commitment to bike riding in Amsterdam. After all, I am an American living in Amsterdam. How safe can riding a bicycle in traffic be? The truth, however, is the bike is king on Amsterdam streets. With bike maps, lanes, and lights, I knew I was in luck—the Amsterdam bikers have right-of-way.
After a week of riding my bike every day and realizing how much fun it was, I called the shop to ask them If they still had my Batavus. I was in luck! I became a proud owner of my first Dutch bicycle that day, fully equip with a license number and insurance for theft.
For five years I peddled around Amsterdam each day, from the grocery store to the pharmacy, to the trams and trains; those two tires took me everywhere. I was proud and happy, careful yet carefree.
And then one day, I was careless. As I unloaded a multitude of things from my bike that day, I left it in front of my door with the keys in the lock. Now if that isn’t fodder for a real live neg-attack I don’t know what is.
Since I teach and train others to build relationships with themselves, I know the difference between taking responsibility and having a big neg-attack. I recognize how stupid it was to leave the keys in the bike in the middle of the city. I also realize that getting mad at myself wasn’t going to bring my bicycle back. So I mourned the loss of my bicycle and thought, “someone must need my bike more than I do.” I let go of the shame, embarrassment, and carelessness, released myself from being to blame and gave my bike to the universe. With a million bikes on the city streets it was like looking for a needle in a haystack—the bike was gone.
Soon after, I went back to MacBike Rentals, booked another bicycle, and reported its loss to the Amsterdam police.
As further “rationalization,” I told myself since I was going to Bangkok for two months, I would purchase another bicycle upon my return. So… no beat-ups for me. After all, I had owned my bike for five years.
When I returned home from Bangkok I bought a new Batavus bicycle. Two days later, however, I had a message on my voicemail from the Bike Depot. They had found a bike. Incredulous, that this was possible with all of those bikes lost and dredged from the Gracht I couldn’t imagine that this was true. I called the depot and sure enough, they had my bike. Together, with my friend Joy, we went on the bike retrieval hunt and found it there at the police station, one in a million! I signed the papers and took my Aqua Batavus home. I now have two bicycles—one for family, friends, and staff, and one for me. I am the proud owner of two Dutch bikes.
I know that letting go and not taking myself to task for such an unforgiveable mistake opened the door for the bicycle to come back to me. I knew, there must be a lesson in here somewhere…
As Dr. Chérie Carter-Scott says in her New York Times bestselling book, If Life Is a Game These Are the Rules, The Ten Rules for Being Human: Rule #4 “There are no mistakes only lessons.”
Is there anything you have lost and gotten angry with yourself for due to your carelessness? Well I am here to tell you that by letting go, I got my bike back and you can too.
If you like this story and want to read more of the Expect Miracles Series please visit our website at themms.com for workshops and seminars on building a relationship with yourself based on positive attention and self love.
Lynn U Stewart, Director of The MMS Worldwide Institute B.V.