Monday, September 27, 2010
Missed Steps, Not Missteps
I’m an acrophobe—I despise heights and everything associated with them. I can never go near the edge at rooftop parties in Manhattan because I’m afraid that I’ll fall.
But, in addition to my degree in Advertising, I also have a degree in Psychology. So, I understand that this fear is irrational and can talk myself through the process of breathing and taking a few sips of Bacardi to compensate.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work that way. Things happen—life happens—and we can’t predict them—or it. Sometimes we let ourselves fall, but most of the time we fall without ever realizing.
This weekend reminded me of that.
While leaving a party with a friend, he tripped and flew down half of a flight of steps and ended up in the hospital. One missed step—a simple mistake that anyone can make—and now he is left with a jaw that’s broken in three places and no front teeth.
I was shocked and shaken, trying to maintain my composure on the phone with the 911 operator while the blood gushed from his mouth at an ungodly rate.
He’s lucky to be alive. Concrete is not forgiving—and his wounds certainly show that fact. But he’s going to be okay nonetheless; he survived his fall.
I want to make several points here:
• Life can change at the drop of a dime; don’t take anything for granted
• Slow down and be grateful to just be alive
• Never skip a chance to tell someone that you love them
• Don’t sweat the small stuff—and it’s all small stuff
• We fall when we least expect it, but it’s our friends and family who pick us up and bring us back to homeostasis—to normalcy
We can defend against falling in a physical sense—but not in a metaphorical one. Life is full of lots of tripping, stumbling and falling. Some of the falls are drastic, massive and life-altering while others are small, simple and silly. But no matter the size of the fall, the outcome is what’s most important. We have to learn from our failures—our falls.
I know he did. And I did too. Sometimes we need to be shocked to be reminded of what’s most important—not money or time, but experiences, memories, feelings and the learnings that come with them.
Do you know someone who’s fallen recently? Were you there for them? Perhaps you were the one who fell—were there others who were there for you? These are the types of life experiences that show us who truly cares—who our true friends are. I had lost sight of that fact because I had become complacent… distracted… easily accepting.
The truth is: we will never be able to predict our falls. What we can control is how we get back up—how much stronger we return from our embarrassment, shame, heartbreak and other missed steps (NOT missteps—we must look at these as learning opportunities and nothing more or less).
As Aaliyah said, “If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.” Amen to that, sistah!
Keep falling and getting back up. You’re not alone.
["The Edge And I Are Close Friends" photo via Tayrawr Fortune on Flickr]