Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Falling down is the opportunity to get up

There is a beautiful story about a young boy who, while running a race, falls three times. I cannot win he tells himself as he lays there the third time, far behind the crowd. I cannot get up. But he hears his father's voice calling from the sidelines, 'get up and win the race'. The little boy wipes the tears from his eyes, gets up and finishes the race. 'I lost real bad' he tells his dad. 'To me you won,' the father replies. 'Each time you fell, you got up and kept on going. In life, whenever you fall, getting up is all you need to do to win.'

Life is not just in the leaps and bounds. It is in the hurdles, the bumps and scrapes, the bruises of running full tilt into the moment, living it for all you're worth. It's found in the tears of lying on the ground after we fall. And its lived in the moment when we get up and keep moving on, keep moving forward, holding onto our dreams and aspirations like a relay-runner holding onto the baton, leaning into the wind, leaning forward, arms outstretched towards the next runner, the next dream, the next goalpost.

I didn't know, on that morning of May 21 five years ago when my dark world was suddenly shattered by the arrival of the police, how far I'd fallen. I only knew where I'd fallen was a hard place to land. I didn't want to stay there. It was far too uncomfortable. With the removal of the man whom I had believed held all the cards, I could see I had a choice to play a different card. I could choose to play the card I'd found lying down on the ground, or I could get up from that place where I was lying, broken and bruised, and move away from where I didn't want to be.

To let go of the discomfort, to find myself amidst the destruction all around me, I had to get up and move away from that place of horror, of shame, or fear and sorrow. I had to get up to show my mind through my body's motion where I wanted to go. In getting up, my mind awoke to the truth that I could keep on running, keep on racing. At first, my gait was not very fluid, my pace not very strong. But, like a child learning to walk, with each step I took, with each foot forward, amidst the stumbles and slips backward, I kept moving forward. I had to. There were lives at stake, dreams to awaken, wounds to heal.

Life is filled with obstacles. It is filled with opportunities. How we see the road ahead depends upon our attitude. We can leap out of bed with cheerful anticipation of the adventure to come. We can lie in bed, steadfastly holding onto our wait and see what happens next trepidation, as we wearily throw back the covers and force our body into action, or we can lace our shoes up with dread and loathing as we fear the path ahead, knowing nothing will ever change because we refuse to see that to change our journey we change our attitude.

It's all in our attitude.

Five years ago I awoke to the loathing of another day to be spent in hell. I had given up all hope of a better future as I saw each moment through the filter of the dreaded past. I stepped out of bed, tired, weary. I believed what I was living was all I deserved. Even death had no time for me as I lay supine on the road to hell wishing someone would come and release me from my existence. And then, one moment changed. The light shifted, the world revolved one more turn and my worldview expanded to include the possibility of life away from abuse.

In having fallen so hard on the road of life, I know it's hard to imagine there's a better way, another place that you can be other than the one you're in.

But there is. There always is. As long as we're breathing. As long as there's life flowing through our veins carrying blood and oxygen to our heart, our mind and limbs, there is always another way. You just have to stand up and claim your right to take the next step away from where you don't want to be. You just have to claim your right to be a winner by getting up.

In my getting up from that hell I was lying in, I convinced my mind that I had the ability to change my attitude and my aspect. From supine to standing up, there's a world of difference.

In standing up, I'm learning to walk tall, live large. I'm learning to live fearlessly, passionately in love with the good, the bad and the not so pretty aspects of me.

Once upon a time I fell upon the road of life and didn't believe I could ever get up again. I proved myself wrong. Five years later, when I fall, I fall in love all over again with me, myself and I. I fall in love with my ability to get back up and take another step forward. I fall in love with my attitude of possibility, my attitude of believing there is always hope as long as I keep breathing that this race will be different. All I have to do is do it differently than I did when I didn't believe I was worth living for.

The question is: What's your attitude? Are you looking at the ground, your nose pressed into the dirt breathing in the musty odour of failure? Or, are you getting up and taking a step away from where you were lying so that you can walk tall, living large?

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