Falling again

Today was a good day for falling off of logs. I’ve written before about falling off of bikesfalling on ice, and even falling out of rickshaws, all of which have added excitement and challenge to my day. To me, a good fall is one that is visually spectacular, and only minorly damaging. A good fall is one that allows me to laugh at myself, and then stand up and get back to work.

The logs. From massive redwood trunks to piles of slender branches, they lie in many of my plots. Some act as convenient raised pathways, but most are barriers to scramble over, squeeze around, or crawl under. Most startling are the ones that lurk under the greenery, waiting to trip me or drop me into a hole. In the past couple weeks I’ve learned to test the trunks before stepping onto them, and even then I do occasionally end up sprawled on the ground.

Most of my falls involve a log shifting as I walk, or simply reaching the end of a log without realizing it (I mean it when I say they’re covered by plants!), causing my next step to be a foot or more lower than I’d expected. It’s more of an ‘oh look, now I’m down here’ moment than a full-out fall. My favorite fall today though (favorite because there were at least three) was much more dramatic.

I had been standing on a medium-sized log, about a foot in diameter, for a couple minutes as I examined the plants in my current plot. I shifted my weight slightly backwards to look up at the leaves of some saplings above my head, and the log obligingly shifted with me, rolling a few degrees backwards. This in turn moved my center of balance beyond my feet, and my body rotated, off the log and down onto the ground below. I landed with a thump, kindly muffled by the rushes growing there.

The five foot dent I left in the rushes. The overexposed wood in the bottom right corner is the edge of the log I fell off.
The five foot dent I left in the rushes. The edge of the log I fell off is in the bottom right corner of the picture.

I have to admit I lay there on my back for a while, marveling at my fortune in having fallen onto sturdy vegetation that considerably softened the impact. Then I got up, only slightly bruised, and returned to work. Maybe it seems strange, but I actually climbed back onto that same log, as it actually was the best place for me to stand, but this time I did so a little more carefully.

There’s an exciting moment in getting up from a fall. It seems like a valuable turning point, where getting back on the horse–or rickshaw, ice skates, bike, or log–is a personal victory, a challenge overcome. After enough of these moments, though, they begin to lose their special status. Now, what matters most after a fall is the same as after any other event: not what has happened, but what I choose to do next.

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