FALL (ING)

Last Friday at 3:02 PM Central Time, summer here was over.  Fall began.  Fall.  I have had a few thoughts about that word.

For the next three months, it will be Fall.  A noun.  A season.  A beautiful time of changing colors and cooler temperatures.  And football.

My partner’s latest grandchild was born last week.  Now he and his wife and family are beginning to fall in love with that baby girl.  So, “falling in love” is a wonderful thing to do.  It connotes losing the ability to resist or stand up against the force of love for another.  So, weakness brings about joy.

But, “falling out of favor” can mean exclusion and isolation by others with whom you were once in favor.  A change of position.

My mom called one night last week to tell us that she had fallen in the wee hours of the morning and broken two ribs on the coffee table.  A story similar to that we have heard from many adult children who now fear for a parent’s independence.  Fortunately, Mom is a tough lady and is healing.  But, to many older folk, the idea of falling is terrifying because of the effects on life thereafter.  Pain.  Limits on freedoms.  Burdens on others.  From one dastardly fall.

Last month, both grandsons tested for their next level belts in taekwondo, which is defined as “a particularly aggressive form of karate.”  Both succeeded.  In Will’s (the 12-year-old) sparring contest with one of the assistant instructors for his first degree black belt, Will was knocked down a few times.  The more experienced opponent more than twice his age and size was able to cause the boy to become off-balance – to fall.  Once one is off-balance, the earth’s gravity force is stronger than the will to remain upright.    But, as Will has learned in his martial art and showed us in his contest, falling the right way and recovering from the fall are essential skills.  He learned how to fall in a way that nothing was broken (well, maybe his pride for a day), and he promptly got back up from the fall.   Similarly, life events can cause one to become off-balance and end up flat on your back.  Using coping skills and others who care about you to “cushion” or break the fall is important to lessen the damage.  And getting back up can create new resolve that a fall will not conquer your spirit.

I have read before that we humans are born with only two innate fears – the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises – and that all other fears are learned.  Whether that is so, I know that we will all fall at some times.  If the impact doesn’t hurt us, we can do as one comedian quipped and try to enjoy the change of scenery while we are down there.  I just hope that I will continue to fall in love with family, friends and beautiful things, and that any of those other types of falls I may suffer will not hurt me enough to prevent me from getting back up and moving ahead.

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