Falling Down

Fear was instilled in me from a young age. Or maybe it was something that was always within. As a child, I never had a devil-may-care attitude or at least, I don't remember having one. I was so often afraid of slipping or falling that there were times when I wouldn't even try. And so what if I slipped? One would simply get up and try again. But I was even fearful of the thought of slipping. I just didn't want to fall. I don't remember if I was always that way, even when I was very young. I was more aware of my fears as I grew older.

Children, for the most part, love embarking on adventures and trying new things. As a child, I loved to play and spend time outdoors with my cousins. I loved adventure up to a point but mostly I wished that I was more adventurous.

I wasn't very good at climbing trees. And I was very hesitant about holding on to a pole railing and swinging myself upside-down and back again. It didn't seem very difficult to do and even seemed like fun. My cousins, even my female cousin, enjoyed themselves as they held on to the pole and swung themselves under and over. I never did. I never dared.

Climbing hills was another challenge for me. Children loved to climb and then run downhill. The hill wasn't very high nor was it very steep. It was fun to climb but I walked back down with much trepidation, placing my foot just so, making sure that I wouldn't fall. Even when I was older, the thought of running downhill, especially if it was steeper than I would have preferred it to be, caused me to be very cautious, even to the point of not wanting to walk downhill at all. Climbing uphill was the easy part. Going downhill caused a bit of a panic. There were those who would do it with such ease and an air of adventure. I think I wanted adventure but mostly I was scared of it. My husband showed me how to do it (it was one time and before we were married), that there was nothing to be afraid of, that it would require some practice on my part. And it wasn't even a steep hillside, just a hilly area by the side of the road. I felt a bit embarrassed but I was also grateful to learn from someone who was willing to teach. These days, I am more adventurous and not so afraid any longer.

I was afraid of falling down. And I've fallen down in so many different ways at different stages of my life.

At school, I was afraid of jumping over hurdles. As I grew older, I had to jump over different hurdles, imaginary though they were. I sometimes wished I had forced myself to jump over a hurdle or two at school so that I would have overcome that sort of fear at an earlier age. But that wasn't to be, apparently, for fear followed me all the way through young adulthood.

I am still fearful of some things. I am still afraid of falling, mostly into an imaginary abyss when the soul knows better but chooses poorly. And when I fall, I am crestfallen and sometimes even heartbroken. There is no band-aid for a broken heart. It needn't even be broken, just a little bruised, perhaps, unexpectedly, and one might even think, unnecessarily. Perhaps a scraped knee or bloodied elbow would have been easier to deal with.

Do not always follow your heart for it may not lead you to where you should be going.

Who said that?

I think I just did.

I came across the following some time ago and thought how appropriate it was:

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson


I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost . . . . I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in . . . it's a habit . . . but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.


I walk down another street.

There are times, even now, when I have to learn to walk down another street. I can choose, can't I? Of course I can. I always have that choice. I can choose another path, even another destination. Sometimes falling down ... falling ... doesn't always mean a bruised knee.



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