Learning how to take a fall


February 08, 2003|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,SUN STAFF

One second he's delivering mail, the next moment he's face down between parking meters on Broadway in Fells Point. A fallen postal carrier was mashed yesterday into a muddy snow bank. Before he could be offered a hand, he was back up, shaking off snow like a Labrador. He returned to his legs and to his job.

Snow now. Snow later, they say. We all could be heading for a fall.

Toddlers fall all the time, but how odd, humbling and disorienting to fall as an adult. That lightning first drop, no warning, just down on the ground, very unsophisticated, truly bad form. All falling is bad form. Some pretend they are stunt men and perform nifty rollovers, but falling on ice is no stunt.

There is no saving face. There is no "losing one's balance." There is no balance, no friction, no hope. There is only falling - fast and hard. Is there a harder hard than hitting the icy deck or stoop? We'd rather sprint into a wall.

After the fall, we do what? We scramble upright like the postal carrier. After the fall, we feel stupid. We fell. We shouldn't fall in life - it's not right. But we did fall, and we come to some hard realizations:

We can be toppled.

We cannot trust the ground beneath us.

We will be sore days from now in places on our body that haven't been sore since never.

We might be reintroduced to a cast.

We were seen falling. But even if we weren't, we FEEL like someone saw us.

We hate falling.

Falling is the great leveler. No matter our size, our tax bracket, our politics or religion, we can and will fall all at the same speed and, quite possibly, all in the same icy parking lot. "I fell yesterday," a friend will say, and we will immediately know the implications. He fell, hard, and it hurt. And we know that he did what any postal carrier or toddler would do after a fall.

He got back up.

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