Taking a tumble or a fall at any time of life can be a bit of a shock, though how we individually and mentally process the act of falling over can be very different, depending on how much water has passed under our bridge of life.
For instance, the toddler who is just learning to walk spends most of his or her time falling over or sitting down with a bump… sometimes with a little more padding in the rear end due to a full nappy or diaper…and often thinks nothing of it, but gets back up and carries on attempting to cross the room to climb on the sofa and then smear the contents of the aforementioned over the walls. You know the story, which parent hasn’t been there?
Although as a teenager, falling out of bed and using the wardrobe as a toilet when you’ve been out for the evening and had too much to drink, isn’t going to be seen as quite so adorable… Neither is throwing up all over the landing and bathroom and having to stand in the shower while your mother hoses you down and cleans up after you! No names, no packdrill, but my gimlet Sauronic eye is on you and you know who you are!
Moving swiftly on and into your twenties, where life and physical fitness is at its peak, no mountain is too high and no river too wide when you’re in your prime. Tripping on an uneven pavement can be sorted by forcing yourself immediately into a flat out sprint until enough speed has been reached to enable vertical life to be restored. Nothing to it if you’re quick and agile like what I was. A fall at this age will result in those around you laughing with derision at your misfortune while you bounce back up, dust yourself down and carry on as if nothing has happened. Move along please, nothing to see here!
However, there comes a time where a fall ascends to a whole new level in Life’s Rich Tapestry. No longer the child or teenager or twenty-something, you reach an age where those around you rush forward with concerned faces and outstretched hands and arms, offering assistance and comfort to your obvious chagrin at having missed the matchstick on the ground that caused the tumble due solely of course to wearing the varifocals which are now in pieces, scattered to the four quarters of this habitable surface and of no use to man nor beast.
Skin and ego has been battered and bruised in equal measure. Ugly swathes of scrapes which, when younger, would have been war wounds to be displayed with a certain amount of pride. Now they need care and attention lest they become the terminally weeping, festering skin-slip sores, forever to be bandaged and treated by the home-help team that arrive morning and evening to ensure you’re either dressed or undressed, or haven’t left the gas cooker on!
Typically, when taking this sort of fall, the humiliation is compounded by the fact that this sudden shock has left you winded and a little confused. Laying there in a state of mild surprise that you haven’t bounded back up onto your feet. Instead, you are still prostrate or supine after what feels like an eternity, while the crowd grows around you exponentially, along with the shame and embarrassment which is now threatening to overwhelm you. More overwhelming than the pain from all the various parts of your body that are throbbing from the sudden contact with the ground that has come up to meet you at an astonishingly rapid rate of knots!
As a child, those around you laugh with encouragement at your mishaps. In midlife, those around you laugh with derision. At this certain point, it is no laughing matter to have a fall and no one is thinking this is funny, least of all you!
At what point in life does this change happen? Does the clock strike the hour, minute, second to alert those around you that they should show concern and offer help rather than smirking at your misfortune behind their hand?
So as I laid there, gazing at the cornflower blue autumnal sky, clutching to my bruised breast the heavy, cast iron, quick-release towbar that I was about to fix to the Discovery rear end, I contemplated this rite of passage transition. Confident in the knowledge that no one was in eyesight of me, I gasped for air as it dawned upon me that that moment in time for me had finally arrived. I was in a considerable amount of pain. But strangely I wasn’t cross with the situation I now found myself in. Confused, yes. Embarrassed, yes. I was confused and embarrassed at myself.
The concrete was warming me, having absorbed the sun’s rays, so as I too absorbed the impact through my body, my brain had to sort fact from fiction and decipher how in a split second, as if by magic, I had transmogrified from vertical to horizontal.
As my gasping reduced and the throbbing increased, I checked my bodily parts for leakages and breakages and determined that my muscles had not overpowered the tensile strength of my bones and I’d at least sustained no fractures or displacements. Rolling over I made it up onto my knees and from there was able to drag myself vertical once more.
Looking back I can ruefully laugh at twisting an ankle on the transition between gravel driveway and concrete path which started this whole process in motion and appreciate the feelings that go through your mind as you lay in a fuddled heap, feeling stupid. I can be grateful that the only witness to this is you, my one reader.
Life is a journey, full of ups and downs. When we see the next person having taken a tumble, flat out on the ground, we will know exactly how they are feeling and how much they want to hide from the staring throng with all their well-meaning offers of help and assistance.
How they just want to get up, dust themselves down, stagger off down the road and
Carry on regardless!
Stay safe, lovely people… vertical and breathing… it’s always a bonus!