My colleagues and I were walking over to the conference center yesterday to hear a big wig (or so we thought) motivational speaker. I was jabbering away about something when the heel of my shoe caught on the cuff of my pants, and, since I was walking at a good clip, not only did I begin to fall down, but I was also propelled forward spectacularly. I hit the ground with the percussive force of an old-timey oil drill.
"Let me help you up," said M as she reached down.
"Not just yet, I need to sit here for a moment," I replied.
It took me about a minute to recover from the force of the impact. In my moment of recovery, I reflected that this particular combination of shoes and slacks was dangerous and might be deadly and I ought to be more careful throughout the day.
And I was. But during the day, I began to feel pretty full of myself. I enjoyed the discovery that something we thought was very bad for us turned out to be very good instead. I was hit with the realization that, not only am I totally ready to take on this masters degree program, but I'll probably be able to do it without breaking a sweat. I was revelling in me. I had twinging sensations that I sounded a lot like the Hare in the Tortoise and the Hare fable, but I brushed them away.
As the ladies and I were leaving work, I was jabbering on about something else altogether. You may not know this about me, but when I get a good head of steam going, conversationally, I begin to forget about my surroundings and responsibilities. In fact, one time, when I worked as an assistant to a blind guy, I was leading him to my car in the parking lot, and was in full-on gab mode. I warned him that there was a step, but I think he was tuning me out and he went down. Boy, nothing in the world makes you feel much more like a humanitarian than dumping a blind guy down on his knees in the parking lot of Staples.
So, we were about 15 feet from my car, and wouldn't you know it? The same heel on the same shoe caught in the same cuff and I went down again, re-injuring my knee and now my ankle. I could barely walk. I hobbled, with assistance, to my car (with a manual transmission) and got in. I began to wonder if God was trying to tell me something. Or maybe it was karma. At any rate, I began to think back on why I might have deserved to have the same punishment twice, with cumulative pain, in one day. Then the light went on.
- One time, Doc, Elizabeth and I were hanging out in our garage/lodge. He had just gotten out of the hot tub and was telling us a story about one thing or another. He turned his back towards us and began to walk toward the kitchen door. The next thing we know, he pitches over like a felled pine tree. There was a beat of silence.
"Are you OK?" we asked him.
"I'm fine," he winced.
And then I started to laugh. I couldn't help it. I blame America's Funniest Home videos. I shouldn't have laughed, it was my fault he fell. I had left my purse on the floor and he stepped first into one loopy handle with his right foot, and then the other with his left. Both of his feet were caught in my purse handles. He later described the sensation he had as he fell as "Feeling like I was a horse trying to get into my own saddle." I can't help it. I'm laughing as I write this. It was funny. I think my first fall was punishment for laughing at Doc.
- The second fall of the day was pure and simple. I was puffed up with pride and I was gloating. I quite literally was knocked down a peg.
So, what did I do with such a clear message from the universe? Well, first and foremost, as soon as I got into my garage, I took those pants off, handed them to Doc, and asked him to please burn those God damned devil pants. Second, I quite literally interpreted the message: keep close to the ground, humble. "Only the penitent [wo]man shall pass."
I'm still pleased with myself, my accomplishments, my future plans. But, I'm going to stop revelling in it. It really is unseemly, unkind, and it makes me look like an asshole.
Thanks, God. You're a true friend; next time, though, I'll remember to read the memo.
P.S. Doc laughed his ass off when he heard this story. I totally deserved it.