I’ve seen this bandied about the Internet on Tumblr and Facebook and then the other day I had it handed to me. It was after I crashed my bike and fell down hard upon the railroad tracks and big chunks of rock. It knocked the wind out of me and the pain brought tears to my eyes. Instead of crying though I sat up and took a breath and then another ignoring the fact that I was smack dab in the busiest intersection of town, and was being witnessed by scores of eyes or perhaps no eyes. So what if 75 out of hundred people in the cars noticed me? So what if 0 out of a hundred people in the cars noticed me. Regardless, all they did was notice or not. There was no movement from within those shiny metal boxes. This event was purely my own.
I’m a championship faller. If I’m standing up, chances are I will fall down. If there was an Olympic sport for falling down; I would win gold Every. Single. Time. If the Olympics introduced a platinum medal – I would take it in a clean sweep. I would compete in both the Summer and Winter games; seasons have got nothing on me when it comes to not-defying gravity.
I began falling at quite an early age. At first it was honest since I couldn’t see. As a toddler, my eyes were requiring my 2-3 year old self to have four surgeries upon my eyes. Toddler tumble anyway, but this toddler took it to new heights. I have scars that have lasted well into adulthood from those formative years
Too many falls: from the top of the slide, from the top of the monkey bars, from the top of the stairs. You name it and I fell from the top of it. And even though I got back up each time the falls led me to not adventuring physically as most children do. Instead I began to adventure in my mind. At first falling there wasn’t quite real, but as I got older and learned to see a bit better I realized that falling down in our minds is just as damaging, if not more damaging than falling down and getting a bruise on my knee.
The stories we tell ourselves; the ones we overlay or have overlayed onto our beings from our environment, siblings, parents, teachers, friends, society are perhaps some of the worst ‘falling downs’ we do. The overlay becomes reality of “I’m not good enough.” Or “They’ll find me out for the faker I am.” To “I don’t deserve love, because I’m too fat, not pretty, sort of ugly, or just unworthy.” These types of falling downs are typically unseen and they also take a lot longer to get back up from them. But like falling physically, the questions is do we get back up from them?
Rising up is a feat on both plains and both physical and mental are inextricably linked. Rising up from a crash on your bike or from falling down the stairs is not only a feat physically, but also one mentally. The connection between the two matters in that it defines who we are as beings. Can we get back up? Or do we stay down? Do we rise 8 times and then on the 9th fall just stop rising?
My own experience both physically and mentally has been filled with both desires and actions. I fall down and sometimes pop right back up. I fall down and sometimes lay there breathing deep before I stagger back up. I fall down and sometimes contemplate just staying down for good. Sometimes thinking about not getting back up is the only comfort I need in the realm of ‘sweet rest’ before I realize, ‘pshaw with that’ and rise once more. Sometimes thinking about not getting back up keeps me down for awhile as I consider what it means to not get back up.
Most people I know have considered what it means to not get back up. Whether it be shutting down and going back to sleep a la’ The Matrix, a metaphor for those awake and living and those asleep living in both fantasy and denial. Perhaps instead it means taking the ultimate physical step of not getting back up and taking measure to return to the source. The sheer act of considering either of these gives rise to our ultimate power over the self: choice.
We get to choose whether we stay down or we get back up. We get to choose what our staying down looks like and we get to choose what our getting back up looks like as well. On the day I crashed my bike I chose to get up, dust myself off, get back on the bike, and continue to my meeting. Though I could have just as easily chosen to cancel the meeting and go home to clean up and get some rest. Or I could have just lain there in the dirt waiting for someone to help; perhaps eventually realizing the solitude of the event. Exercising our right to choose matters and perhaps all choices are at the crux of falling down and getting up and which we choose each time.
This time, I stood up that 8th time. . . or to extend the metaphor to reality it would have been getting up at least the millionth time. And with a nod to my Olympic creds, if there was a Gold Medal for standing up I would win that too.
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