I wish I could remember back to the time when I took my first faltering steps. I think I was walking soon after I turned one. As a non-mom, I do not have the experience of seeing my baby make her stand-walk-run journey (though don’t they seem to skip the walk part most of the time?) I can only imagine the incredible joy parents feel to witness their little one’s foray into mobile independence … and I can also imagine quickly regretting it when the angel is found deep in mischief previously not possible!

How easy it is, however, to forget what it means to find those very first steps into physical adventure, and how easy it is to take them for granted. Until you encounter – either literally or figuratively – a sudden inability to move forward!

I am experiencing just that these days, learning to roller blade for the first time. Yesterday, just as I was starting to do my bills, the fire alarm in my condo building went screaming. On complete whim (my prerogative as a non-wife, non-mom) I quickly changed, grabbed my car keys and sped off to Alki beach with my roller blades. I had only been out twice before, both times with company and help. The first time I was barely able to stand, the second time all I did was stand. So it wasn’t progress that was encouraging me to go, just plain, audacious whim. And perhaps a dash of courage.

The moment I parked my car, put on my gear and stood in the grass adjacent to the trail, I regretted all of it. I looked like a fool, standing in one spot, with no where to go. My feet felt rooted to the ground, my body felt numb and all I could do was … just stand there. Then a little voice inside me, that sounded just like my mommy-voice might be had I been speaking to a little one, said, “Come on baby, you can do it, step out, one foot at a time, come on…” I put one foot forward and immediately slid back. I tried the other and both slid back. I went back and forth, moving 10 inches or less at a time in one spot. Progress!

Then suddenly, I don’t quite know what happened. Whether the voice kept urging me, or whether my legs did their own bidding, all of a sudden I was moving. Gliding, ever so slowly, with the wind. I was exhilarated and panicked all at the same time. I went about 50 feet and back like that, like a little girl just having figured out her first stumbling steps, ready to fall down any minute.

Then the saviors began to come, one by one. One gal, speeding by gracefully on her blades, cheered me on, saying “side-to-side, honey, side-to-side! You’re getting it!” I began to sway – side-to-side – and found a bit more motion. Soon after, a guy who had whizzed by on his blades previously like the world champion (making me smile at him nervously and incredibly envious of his flying with the wind), stopped on his way back and said “Hi! Having fun?” “I’m Mark,” he shook my hand. “I teach many people to roller-blade!” 20 minutes later, I had had what felt like my first full-on roller-blading coaching class. Mark taught me how to move my center of gravity forward with bent knees and hands splayed to the front. He taught me that the most important thing to do was to learn to STOP once I was moving, and showed me how. He also showed me little exercises I could do on the grass to learn the stop stance and to find my balance on each individual foot. I exchanged pleasantries with Mark, thanked him from the bottom of my heart, and after he glided off, I resumed my baby steps, this time, practicing how to STOP. Just as I was getting somewhere, my third savior came along. He was on a bike. “Having fun yet?” He too asked. “I am a competitive roller-blader, and thought I could give you some tips,” he said. Savior 3 told me that the best way to get proficient was to practice in an indoor rink. He proceeded to give me names of 3 locations, the name of the best place, and hourly rates for skating there. After recommending that I should also get elbow pads, Savior 3 disappeared with the wind.

As I glided back and forth with the fresh lessons in my head slowly moving into my body, now doing about 100 feet at a time, I realized that I needed to STOP. Stop and ponder the nature of the universe, of the one-ness of all beings, the higher power that ties us all together. I might think I am alone, and yet, my solitary faltering steps of courage had called in several unknown parents to hold my hand, give me words of encouragement, and show me the way. I was being raised by roller-blading wolves!

I thought back to the time I learned to walk the walk of life once again after my divorce. On my long walks along the Seattle waterfront, I had looked to the glorious Mt. Rainier on one side and the setting sun on the other and had asked them to be my parents, my guides. This is when I had written …


A breeze skims, whispering

Pithy little mantras, offerings;

Laughing waves kiss ashore

Promising patterns, hope galore

Bids goodbye an orange glory,

Reassuring but a morning story.

At the outset weak, faltering,

Then with surer, firmer footing,

First an infant of maiden tread;

Then a toddler, brisk instead.

Now, then! I break into a run,

Curious child in wild abandon.


Flights of inexplicable faith,

Quests of ever elusive truth;

Afar the horizon my gaze finds,

Still, a palm extends behind –

For a deep belief does stand

That reach out will your hand.


At Your behest, oh my Lord

I question not, only applaud;

Prance I do towards eternity:

For as do parallel lines at infinity,

I with the One who does create

And twinsouls shall forever unite.






Last 5 posts by Shahana Dattagupta


  1. Pry

    I really like your way of writing..Expecting great posts from you!!!

  2. Anonymous

    I like the verse. Well written

  3. Smitha

    Cool Post…Nicely written poem!!!

  4. Rajini

    Wow!!! roller skates..My son got these heelys shoes and ever since he wants to do roller skating..

  5. Khushi

    I love the last but one para the one on stopping the most. The poem is nice too. I like that three strangers helped you – it makes me feel good about community in general.

  6. ranu.dattagupta

    very nicely written post which combines experience with deeper thoughts.
    It also highlights the point that one should know when,where and how to ‘stop’ instead of blindly ‘sliding’ with running-life. Expecting more posts like this.

  7. Anonymous


  8. I love this line:
    “I had looked to the glorious Mt. Rainier on one side and the setting sun on the other and had asked them to be my parents, my guides.”

    I felt the same when I moved to Seattle by myself 13 years ago in beat up old car determined to be independent and happy and have faith.

    your writing is such a gift. thank you.


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