Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Art of Falling

A week ago I fell.

A complete and total face plant walking Watson. My fantastic Audrey sunglasses scratched. Both knees scraped and bruised. My right shoulder still complains when I lay on it.

And… What happened in that fraction in of a second revealed a complete freedom.

Photo taken by krosseel
On 8mm film, when I was 3 years old, flickers an odd little thing which is the perfect picture of my basic personality.

I run as fast as I can.
I stop.
Step warily over a garden hose.
Then continue running.

I remember at 5, learning to ride without training wheels. I was a two wheeling success for three days. Then my Grandparents came over. They wanted to see me ride my bike.
Photo taken by cohdra

Proud, and feeling quite invincible, I pushed away.
Began pedaling down the sidewalk.
I was great riding in a straight line, but the bike decided to turn. I hung onto the bike as we both found the rosebush at the end of the apartment row.

I refused to ride my bike for the rest of the summer.

I. Hate. Falling.

Then I had boys. They jumped. They climbed. They fell. Ase was cautious and I realized very quickly he looked to me for bravery. I had to lead by example.

These were our mantras:
Being brave is being afraid and doing it anyway.
If you fall-point your toes. (Patrick Swayze’s Mom told him that.)

Then we moved to Mammoth. Counting Mutant worked for the resort which of course meant Ase and Zany learned how to ski.  Here they were, wanting to hurl themselves down an ice covered mountain on waxed wood pieces.
I was the parent.

I needed to set the example.

I needed to get my ass on a chair lift and learn how to ski. In throwing myself upon the mercy of gravity a truth emerged from the ski/snowboarding culture: falling is an art form. All falls are braggable accomplishments, because it means you tried.

Life happened and we moved into the Central Valley. The boys, now with sister in tow, decided dance would be their new passion. I would watch through the window of their classes, or in the audience during rehearsals. Beautiful, graceful dancers flowing across the stage would fall on their face. They would bounce up like a rubber ball, smile firmly in place and continue. It reminded me of what my Mom used to tell me when performing a musical piece: “If you make a mistake, keep playing. Don’t pause. Don’t start over. Just keep going because the audience won’t know you made a mistake. You are the only one who knows the music.”

I have listened to people the last week, express concern, sorrow, regret and warnings to be careful in the future. Each interaction leaves me a bit befuddled. I fell and it was spectacular. It was the rare person who could revel in the beauty of my wounds. Who could celebrate with me that I was alright in the grand scheme of things.
And I realized today:

Falling is not the worst thing that could happen. 

I bounced back up.
Smile on my face.
Bravely facing the next moment.

Never afraid to fall again.

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