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Location: Midwest, United States

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Perceptions are funny things.

I’ve taken to falling to earth quite a bit these last few months. It’s been kinda weird considering that I haven’t crashed all that often for decades.

It wasn’t always that way. As a child, I fell often. Quite often. Most children do. Most urchins sport band-aids and plasters because, well, children are ever exploring possibilities. And, in the process, they learn realities.

It’s best to become acquainted with the art of falling whilst young. Very young. I envied the tots I met on ski slopes. Tiny humans no taller than my kneecaps would gleefully glide past as I learned to a college student. I envied them. Their off-balance mayhem wasn’t anywhere near as dramatic (bruising) as my own. Two-foot high urchins weighing little more than a bag o’ Skittles don’t leave deep ruts in snow when they I did.

So. I fell often enough as a toddler, a youth, a young adult. But then I learned enough to stop falling (unless I was traversing ice which is a whole ‘nother story). I simply stayed upright. Feet planted firmly on ground.

Oh, there was the occasional face plant whilst running on forest trails. Autumn was my season for that, when leaves hid rocks and roots from these less-than-discerning eyes. I didn’t mind the occasional stumble and tumble. I was earning my trail-runner’s stripes. It all kinda came with the territory.

Even so, I stayed mostly upright throughout my “adult” years.

No longer. I’ve probably fallen more often these past three months than I had in the past three decades. I’ve become a bicyclist. It’s a sport requiring a modicum of skill and a good dollop of balance. I possess neither. What I possess is a badly corroded right hip that makes cycling (the mounting/dismounting aspect, particularly) an adventure.

So I fall. Often enough that my neighbors shout out to me (as I arrive home steam emanating): “Did you fall today?” Don't misunderstand, they’re good people, they don’t mock. I believe they are genuinely concerned (albeit amused) by my routine calamitous dismounts.

But, here’s the thing: Each and every time I fall to ground, it feels as if it’s all happening in Super Slo-Mo. It’s the weirdest phenomenon. Nowadays, when I lose my balance, bicycle keeling whilst feet are locked onto pedals, it all seems to happen at an inordinately leisurely pace. I have time enough to reflect upon my stupidity, my inadequacies, my family, friends and neighbors. I can ponder at length just how much it’s gonna hurt. It seems as if I have time enough, from initial teeter, to write my memoirs while I totter.

Perceptions are funny things.

* * *


Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

I've always been scared of using those foot thingies on bike pedals for just that reason: you can't get your foot off the pedal to stop the fall!

I was 30 when I first learned to ski and then over 40 when I moved to the Vancouver area and could go skiing anytime. I really tried hard to not fall cuz I knew how much it could hurt... To this day, I will only traverse the green runs. Yes, I am chicken.

Wed Nov 03, 01:00:00 AM  
Blogger Wine and Words said...

I haven't fallen in awhile, but I am pigeon toed and have most often tripped over my own feet! What I find most curious is that sleepy limbo between wake and dream, where I am walking through the events of the day, miss a step, and seem to tumble through the air arriving on my sheets, now wide awake. Just to think of this misstep causes my body to actually participate. It is so strange.

Wed Nov 03, 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Kass said...

Scary. I would hate to fall off my bike. Hasn't happened in decades.

I feel for you.

Wed Nov 03, 11:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say I'm not a fan of falling. I trip a lot, dragging my feet, both literally and metaphorically with regards to my life, but not falling. I do hope to fall in love though again one day. I kind of falling I'm okay with:)

"calamitous dismounts" Love this.

Thu Nov 04, 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

I've taken up unicycling and have been forced to wear padded gloves lest I want to pick gravel out of my palms all day...

My father was like a yellow belt or something in judo but it was enough to teach his boys how to properly "fall".

As a result, I've never broken a bone in all my years of falling.

That "slow motion" feeling you get is the reason you are falling more in the first place. Your mind is less focused on your physicality than it once was and far more "spective".

Your frontal lobe is taking over...

Fri Nov 05, 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

I can't imagine cycling without relying on cleats, Ponita. Being locked onto the pedals increases pedaling efficiency manifold. I love powering up hills. But...there's a price to pay. Falling can be a bit of a bother. But...I wouldn't have it any other way.

I get that, Annie. There're those nights when I feel myself falling, flying. Me likes.

No, no need to feel sorry for me, Kass (though I appreciate the concern). I actually LIKE the fact that I fall. I LIKE being physical. I LOVE kissing the earth. I LOVE being alive. Moving. Trying. Failing. Getting up and trying again. It was the missing ingredient in my life, this act of living.

It's really not all that bad, Lilith. I laugh more than I cry. My wish for you? That you love.

Ah, yes, Scott! So true! My frontal cortex predominates. Have you ever read the writings of Jonah Lehrer? I believe you'd get a kick outta him. Yes, indeedy, my frontal lobe predominates (though I wish it didn't). There's no feeling finer than to be "in the zone." To move through time and space free as the wind. Aware yet oblivious. Each and every time I've experienced that, I've come away awed.

Postscript; I've never broken a bone in a fall. My breaks and fractures have all been the result of violence. Falling don't bother me all that much.

Sat Nov 06, 09:29:00 PM  

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