Practice Falling Down
They say that practice makes perfect. For some it does. It definitely makes easier whatever action, response, process, procedure or behavior is being repeated. Falling down can hurt. Getting up can be hard.
In the study of martial arts one learns techniques designed to prevent serious injury to the body when one is thrown or caused to fall to the ground. These methods are very effective if practiced correctly. Thus, getting back up becomes nearly effortless.
In life we take falls. But how, exactly, do we prepare for or practice the sheer descent of tragedies, calamities, disasters, bad luck, a broken heart, a lost fortune, a misadventure, the loss of loved ones or a friend, the loss of a job, a home, your dignity, position, power? It seems like that old problem where you can’t get the job without experience, but you can’t get the experience without the job.
The reality of it is we start practicing to fall at a very early age. First we fall from the womb. After some time we finally make it to our feet, and from that point on we are either trying to even the score or get ahead of the game. We start with the easy ones, bumping our heads, stubbing a toe, cuts and burns, learning to ride a bike, finding a loved pet dead in it’s cage, slipping and falling on ice, a broken bone or two, being made fun of at school, not making the team, fevers, acne, self and social acceptance, or not, little stuff that seems big at that moment. The lucky ones receive physical and emotional aide and support from family members. From others and from our own determination, motivation, pure stubbornness and resiliency we learn, in our unique ways, to take a fall and get back up.
But the falls just keep getting harder. Each experience should be an exercise. Your failures are wasted if you do not learn something from them.
Your successes are not nearly as meaningful if you have not surmounted some obstacles to accomplish these achievements. Part of being a leader, a winner, a superstar, a regular person or even a complete unknown is being able to fall down and get back up, to handle and accept misfortune and failure, to live with it, to deal with it and get on with it.
We can practice a little everyday by building up our relationships with all those people who are important in our lives. We can continue to cultivate friendships, extending our trust and favor with those whom we admire and respect. Our positive relationships with others are the most significant commodity we possess when it comes to taking a dive or sharing and enjoying success. We become of consequence to others to the extent that we make them prominent in our own life. For people who have isolated themselves, who shirk the responsibilities and thus the rewards of friendship and love, it is far more difficult to recover from ‘falls’ and their accompanying ‘cuts and scrapes’ , if not ‘broken bones’. And rest assured, listener, it ain’t over ’till it’s over.
Since we are likely going to take some serious falls during our stay here on earth, we must be practiced enough to rise with grace and minimize our pain and injury. Some stalwart bodies manage on their own. Big enough, strong enough, or rich enough to carry their own burden, they may look upon the rest of us as weak or imperfect. Most of us have times when we, too, have to go it alone. There are some things only you can do. When that is not the case, there is no greater advantage than with the help of others, or at the least, an other. Reaching out to others can be humbling, but it can be the wisest thing to do at times. Share the pain, get things into perspective and find out that you are not alone. Get strength from others, encouragement, support and a new will to overcome. Get back up and be stronger the next time. Help others up when they fall. Give and get love and respect. This is practice.
Ironically, those of us considered to be fools very often are those who have practiced this rule the most, becoming tragically humble, honorably compassionate, decidedly respectful and appear at times to be complacently awaiting a ship to sail in. When it does, it will not be how many times we fell down so perfectly that matters, or how many times we struggled or were helped back up. What will count the most is with what wealth of compassion we measured out to the desperate humanity in each and every person we ever chanced to meet, the graciousness with which we accepted the same from others and with what substance of love we held this unstable world in balance.
Henry Edward Gibbons