Falling down

I learned a hard lesson on the asphalt streets of Florida when I was young. It involved a skateboard and a steep hill for Florida anyway. Come to think of it, there might have been a bike and a hill at some point. Damn! There was that time with a sled, a hill, and an icy road too.

Put it this way: I know road rash when I see it.

Memo to self: you are not a quick learner. Keep that in mind the next time something hurts.

The lesson is this: sometimes it’s better to pick your fall than have a fall pick you. Maybe you learned this lesson yourself. Maybe you didn’t have to learn it – some things just come naturally to you like self-preservation. I’m just here to fill in the gaps.

Falls are terrible pickers. They don’t care what lands first, it’s orientation to your velocity, or the textures of the various surfaces on which you may land/slide. I may not know you, so for all I know you may be a terrible picker too. But if I was a betting man, I’d still put my money on you (site unseen).

Today I learned a new lesson as I was applying an old one.

I’m not ready for downhill skating. When the whir of the wheels approaches the pitch of a whistle, I’m going WAY too fast – especially when I’ve just skated up the same hill and my legs have the rigidity of two narrow columns of memory foam.
I was not proud of my error in judgement. However, I’m happy to report my quick thinking assessed the situation and computed a relatively safe landing. I’d reached totally-mental velocity too quickly for standard breaking measures. I had just enough control to stay upright and stay on the street. As I was racing past folks’ front lawns I noticed one with a high sand to grass ratio and decided to ditch. Ditching in Florida grass can be almost as painfull as asphalt. Imagine a nice soft lawn and a roudy bunch of aloe vera plants decided to mate. You’d get a Florida lawn – without the soothing gel.

I’m a firm believer in the feet first fall. Protecting the rest of your body with your face is almost never a good strategy. For sand, I prefer a slide like a baserunner stealing second – not landing on my ass, but not directly on my hip bone either – somewhere in between. I bend the inside (lower) leg a bit to absorb some of the impact, trying to keep my feet up to avoid getting the skates stuck – an important point. If you inadvertently plant one of those skates, stopping your foot suddenly as the rest of you keeps moving, it can get really ugly really fast.

When it was all over I looked up to see if anyone was watching my triumph over disaster.

The neighborhood was very quiet.

I got back up on my skates and kept going. That there is an honest to goodness life lesson. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off (in my case literally), hold your head high, and keep on keeping on.

There won’t be any more hills for a while though.

Give the gift of words.