I’ve always been uncoordinated.
If there was ever a door, ledge, cabinet, speck of dust, or waft of air within a few inches of my feet growing up, my body was sure to encounter a definite trip and possible fall back towards earth before long. My hands often find it hilarious to clumsily knock down cups at restaurant tables. My knees have permanent scars on them from the number of times they’ve hit the deck.
My troubles only multiplied by a million when I became a 6 foot tall middle schooler before the rest of my body found out what was happening. My pole vault coach (what was I thinking?) freshman year quickly gave me the nickname Ragedy Ann. And in a lot of ways, that’s what it looked like.
Imagine the misfortunes of a 6 foot tall rag doll performing daily tasks like walking, eating and horsing around with the guys. A complete mess. Eventually (once I got over looking like a clown in front of most girls I met) I found time to laugh about it.
Sophomore year of college when the doctor ordered me to start running regularly as part of physical therapy for a back injury, my demise was clearly imminent.
The first month or two on the treadmill were safe, but I felt like a hamster on a wheel chasing the happy people walking right outside the gym windows. When my ego couldn’t endure running painfully slow in front of the outside spectators (and girls on neighboring treadmills) at the gym anymore, progressing to the great outdoors was the next step.
If only the great outdoors came with knee pads.
It wasn’t but a few weeks of morning jogs until my 6’ 2” frame found itself quickly approaching and colliding with the sidewalk. It was painful, there was blood, and it definitely caught me off guard.
“Why am I even doing this?” I thought to myself.
“You’re not a runner, just walk back and hang up the towel.”
One time, after a particularly unpleasant evening tumble, I looked up just in time to watch a driver stopped at an adjacent stop sign witness the spectacle firsthand and keep on driving like nothing had happened. I felt very alone. Like someone should be there to take me home, or at least ask if I was alright.
But they weren’t, and (eventually) I got up. Again and again, the spectacle repeated itself. Heck, by the 4th or 5th fall I basically had the tuck-roll-and-jump maneuver mastered.
And that’s just how it goes sometimes.
You fall, usually with no warning whatsoever, and only have control of your reaction. And when you’re on the ground it’s so easy to just stay there. Deceptively comforting voices plead with your soul to just walk home in shame, disappointment and anger. Cut your losses. Call it a day.
And listening to those voices feels so natural in the moment.
But they’re a joke. They haven’t a clue what they’re talking about.
It’s time to get back up and keep moving.
Not in a fluffy, over-emotionalized, Hallmark-y way.
But in a real, bloody, scrape your knees kind of way.
And it all starts with a step.
Just like the Winter Warlock in the ABC stop motion classic, Santa Claus is Coming to Town. He’s a mean beast who wants to be good but doesn’t think he can change. Kris Kringle persuades Winter (through an incredibly catchy musical score) that all it takes to start moving again is putting “one foot in front of the other.”
Much like Winter, what it often takes to get moving in the right direction again is simply taking the next best step.
Nowadays, I don’t tumble nearly as often. And though I’m not sure if it’s luck or improvement keeping me vertical, I do know I’ve got somewhere to be that doesn’t include laying across the sidewalk. Regardless of the my condition when I arrive, I hope I can look back and appreciate the messy, scar-filled injury for what it is and look towards the next chapter instead of dwelling on battle scars of the past.
Put one foot in front of the other.
Soon, you’ll be
walking running out the door.