I had a tendency my whole life to stumble and fall. Literally. Always compensating for my bad knees, I’d crash to the ground after stepping wrong on a pebble, rather than risk throwing my knee out (as I called it back then).
The first serious knee incident came in 7th grade when I brazenly challenged the 7th and 8th grade boys at high jump. I beat ’em all, by golly, but on that last leap over the bar, I twisted my knee as I landed. It makes me wince even now, many, many, many years later.
In high school, I was stupid enough to try out for the 50-yard dash in track and field. Three steps and I was down, clutching my knee.
As an adult, I was knee-bumped from behind by a playful adult male (don’t you just love playful adult males?), whereupon I crashed into a group of nearby bicycles and ended up scratched and bruised and unable to walk for a week.
Over the years, I learned to avoid the quick weight change, lunge, or twist to regain my balance after a misstep. My body preferred to hit the ground and spread the pain over a broader area. I carried a stack of books into the library in Muncie, Indiana, but crashed to the pavement when I stepped sideways on a small pine cone. In Maastricht, Holland, my foot landed in a worn groove on ancient stairs in a park, and I performed a dandy “tuck and roll” as I fell down the remaining three steps, careful to protect my camera. In the south of France, I walked along a path between two hunky guys, and boom. I was down before they had time to react.
I did have repair surgery on both knees in the late 80s, which eliminated the pain problem for several years. It didn’t stop me from falling, though. Old habits are very hard to break.
One Sunday morning here in Colorado, I walked a three-mile hike at a brisk pace, caught my toe in a raised section of sidewalk in a small strip mall, and fell face foward on the cement. Luckily I did not hit my head or I might not be writing this post today. I think that was the day I finally realized I had to be more careful, that I had to focus on where I was going. Some of us are slow learners.
This post is about the ability to pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and start all over again (song lyrics again — will it ever stop?). And it’s about focusing on where you’re going. Writers have to do these things. We fall down a lot.