I am clumsy.
If there is a crack in a sidewalk, I'll catch my heel in it. If there is a doorknob, I'll smack my wrist against it. I catch my hair in the car door, my scarves get stuck on screws and locks on bathroom stalls and my clothes are continuously stained with drips of soup or chile or ketchup. Once, while on a first date, I got soy sauce in my hair. I usually joke that my mom didn't name me Grace for a reason and I handle these mishaps with a fair amount of good humor.
In January, I fell walking through a parking lot that didn't have any cracks or holes. There was a gentle slope in the parking lot and I tend to slightly drag my left foot when I walk. My foot dragged on the slope and down I went. A nice gentleman had just walked out of the restaurant and saw me go down. While I chased a lip gloss that was rolling through the parking lot, he picked up the other contents of my purse that had flown out. After assuring him that I was fine, I limped into the restaurant. The adrenaline wore off, the pain set in and shortly thereafter, the swelling began. My ankle was purple and ugly and I was really angry that I fell. Again. I was angry that I'm not more careful and I was angry that it feels like I have no poise or grace. I feel like I just clunk around, knocking into things and falling down like Steve Martin in, well, every movie he's made in the last ten years.
I've never been graceful. In addition to my clumsiness, I sometimes speak too loudly (or I don't think before I speak), I joke a little too much and sometimes hurt people's feelings and I can be harsh with my opinion. I've come to accept this about myself and I try and be more mindful of these traits, but sometimes I don't catch myself in time. Later, I'll spend hours beating myself up over some joke or some criticism I made without thinking. I am hard on others but never as hard as I am on myself. In fact, I'm willing to forgive just about anyone much quicker than I'll ever forgive myself.
|West window of the Bataan Memorial Building, Santa Fe, NM.|
Poem by Bridget Green for the Snow Poems Project*
I don't know how to handle hard times with grace. I tend to go to anger - recently, there was a break-up between two people I care deeply for. Instead of reacting with sadness or even compassion, my grief manifested itself in anger. I was angry with them for breaking up, for not telling me right away, for feeling betrayed and abandoned. I didn't have the grace to look beyond my own feelings and trust that they knew what they were doing. I simply got angry.
I've written before that anger is how I protect myself when I'm feeling hurt, sad or afraid. I don't want to be consoled when I'm angry. I don't want to be hugged or held, nor do I want to hear platitudes. I just want to be angry. When I'm angry, I don't have to face the truth of my feelings: rejection, abandonment, fear, insecurity and jealousy - to name a few. When I don't face those feelings, I don't have to deal with the past hurts that keep bringing those feelings up. Instead of getting to the root of my truth, I clumsily fumble through life and I keep falling down.
The interesting thing about falling down, however, is that I always get back up. Anger subsides, bruises heal, and I have to keep moving forward. That, dear reader, is grace. Opening one's eyes each morning and getting out of bed (or staying in bed for the day and trying again the next) is having grace. While I have no idea what it is like to always say the right thing, move through this earth on a gentle glide and always have the right answer, I know I have the grace to admit when I'm wrong. Though sometimes I have to do it with gritted teeth, I can ask for help and support and that requires an extraordinary amount of grace.
I wrote last time that I met someone. Falling in love feels just as clumsy as falling down. Opening up and allowing myself to be vulnerable has sown a whole new crop of insecurity and self-doubt. What if I'm not cut out to be in love? What if he hurts me? What if I'm being played? What if I screw this up? What if this doesn't work out and I have to go through the terrible process of meeting someone all over again?
What if I fall and he isn't there to catch me?
When I am able to stop thinking what if, I have clarity - I don't need him to catch or carry me. I need him to be my partner. I can't control this relationship and the directions it takes. I can only be mindful and operate from a place of love.
It takes a considerable amount of grace and an incredible amount of love to stay solid when one wants to fall apart.
It takes grace to face fear, and in February, one of my biggest fears surfaced and there was no avoiding it.
To be continued.
Next time: Two Minutes of Happy
*This photo was taken in Santa Fe, NM. It is a window that is one story high and part of the Snow Poems Project. This particular poem is by Bridget Green. For a complete listing of poems and poets, as well as more information, please visit: http://snowpoemsproject.com
The Art of Falling
We can learn
that falls without knowing how