We all fall down at some point or another. Sometimes we fail our friends. Other times our family. Many times ourselves. Today has nothing to do with that. Today has to do with my face flinging into fresh mud on the trail because I was being a punk. I don't know if karma is a thing, but it is certainly a bitch.
The run began inauspiciously. A light jog into a heavily wooded spring trail. I picked up speed and was soon careening down the trail with my own version of fast. As I flew through the winding downward trail I hit a crossroads. Looking both ways on before crossing like my mother taught me, I saw a grizzled old 60 year old man. He was minding his own business, not even paying attention to me when an unexplainable urge came into me. I had to show this guy that I was fast. He had to know that he was dealing with a true pro. Unknown to this old man, he had entered into the stadium, and I was the player. I churned my little legs with all of their might and blasted past him. I took the corner and looked over my shoulder to see if the man was standing there in amazement like I knew he would. Because life isn't that perfect, THWAK. I was hit. Mayday! Soldier down!
I have never experienced slower motion. My body sprawled out. My hands grasped the open air as my face buried itself six inches into the dirt. As I completed my unintentionally beautiful baseball slide I heard the old man behind me. He had noticed me. He was probably going to try to help me. I only had a few seconds left to stop that. To save what little pride I had left. So I scrambled up, refused to make eye contact, and sprinted around a corner. Once I was out of eyesight, I stopped to assess my wounds. My $100 shoe was ripped. My knee--bleeding. My pride--injured. All for the approval of some stranger I'll never see again. But hey, at least I have a story out of it.
The fall doesn't bother me. The man watching the fall is what bothers me. I have always been self-conscious about being clumsy. Constantly afraid of what people think when I drop a plate or stub my toe. I learned to cope by pretending that my clumsiness never happened. That my failures never occurred. Today I realize how foolish that is. To go through life trying to impress the people I don't know. To live for the moments when I can show off; to die in the moments when I fall. To deny my failures is to deny an important part of myself. To reject experiences which created the unique mix of beauty and ugly that is unabashedly me.
Who am I? A runner and a couch potato. A failure and a success. A contradiction and a confirmation. Who do I want to be? A man who doesn't hide from himself. Who struggles to the peak of the highest mountain, smiles through his bloodied face, unfurls his flag and yells "Here I am. Take me or leave me."