48 essays by Elizabeth Shé

Essay #47: falling

In Love on January 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Gee, but it’s great to be back home. Home is where I wanna be. I been on the road so long, my friend. ~Simon & Garfunkel, “Keep the Customer Satisfied”

I went to California last week, to see my dad and stepmom. I was scared to go, afraid to fall back into old family patterns and behaviors.

After the snowstorm, however, I decided to let myself fall. Instead of trying to remember to be my (new! improved!) adult self all the time, I gave myself permission to relax and relapse. I planned to dust myself off and try again: be Me.

What a relief. Instead of expending great amounts of energy trying not to fall, I just went with it, like a martial artist. Those smarties assume they’re going to fall, so they practice, learning to land as free from harm as possible. When I studied aikido a few years ago, we practiced falling and rolling a lot, on good thick mats.

My favorite aikido move is rolling from standing, although when Sensei introduced it, I thought he was nuts. A somersault from standing? TO standing? I can’t do that! Scared scared scared.

“You can do this,” he said. “I know you can.” So I practiced it slo-mo over and over. And watched kids and teenagers doing it easily — whoosh!

One day, I just went for it. I stood at the edge of the mat, threw myself forward across the floor, tumbled along my arm shoulder hip — whoosh! and then I was up, on my feet, facing the same direction on the other side of the room.

“I did it!” I said, thrilled to my completely intact bones. Then did it again and again. And found out how much easier it is to do quickly. Momentum can be your friend.

All that week at work, I strutted around, finally understanding the cocky walk of arrogant men. Sauntering to the restroom, to a meeting, to a co-worker’s cubicle, a voice in my head repeated, “Ha! I can roll from standing! I can do anything!”

Oh California, I’m coming home. Will you take me as I am? ~Joni Mitchell, “California”

  1. This lesson about falling couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Thanks for sharing.

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