Continuum: We All Fall Down

a clumsy person.
Ring-a-ring o' roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
We all fall down.
I loved this rhyme. Because like most toddlers, I loved falling down. Have you seen children at play? They love playing games where they all have to drop to the ground in careless heaps, tumbling and rolling in the sand, uncaring of clothes, hair or scrapes.
Its interesting when you think about it. When do we start getting afraid of falling? WHY are we so afraid to fall?
Is it the fear of embarrassing ourselves in front of that cute person we have a crush on? Or is it the fear of injury, blood, scars and pain?
The people closest to me know me for the Klutz I am. Yes, its true!
In true Saggitarian fashion, I will come striding powerfully down the street, making a powerful impression with my personality, my energy etc etc. right upto the point where I will trip over my own feet, fall flat on my face, upright myself in a flash and continue walking as if nothing ever happened.
The people who know me, who are reading this are currently nodding in agreement, laughing to themselves or shaking their head in exasperation at the shared memory of how many times SAID fall has happened.
My knees are a true testament to the number of scrapes and bruises received due to my habit of falling inadvertently. No seriously, they are a battleground of scar tissue and marks.
My mother once asked me in true bewildered fashion, after a performance of mine, How is it that you are so graceful on stage, but constantly trip over your own feet otherwise?”
I cannot count the number of times that I would finish a performance, exit the stage and literally trip and fall in the wings, or on my way into the green room. And truth be told, it has happened onstage too a couple of times. But only a couple. Ok maybe 4 times to be exact.
The worst time out of the 4, was when I was performing at a show, front and center as principal dancer and my footwear got stuck on the edge of the stage and I fell flat on my back OFF the stage ( it was only a foot high, thank god!), and I was staring into the eyes of audience members sitting all around ( small performance, they were sitting right in front of the stage, you get the picture).
At that moment, I didn’t have time to think. I just got right back up and finished the performance. Of course, I ate my dinner discreetly hiding behind a pillar at the post performance buffet, lest an audience member see me and bring up the embarrassing matter of my fall.  I have to say the mortification level was about 1000 percent at this point.
In retrospect, I should have probably gone out there boldly and accepted the compliments that they gave my fellow dancers about, “the dancer who fell but gracefully and professionally finished her performance”.
How nice it would be, if we were complimented the same way, EVERY time we fall in life?
I always imagine myself on a race track (Did I mention, I used to be an athlete in school? Running was my preferred sport, before dance happened). Now imagine all the people in your life, family, friends and supporters standing on the bleachers, yelling and screaming your name, cheering you on to keep going, banners waving, your mom/dad/sibling/best friend running out to give you glucose when you run out of energy. Now imagine all those people who are booing you, waiting to see you fall, as cheerleaders for your opponents. What do you do? You ignore them and focus on your race. Except you can run at your pace, because speed is not the deciding factor in life, consistency and commitment is.
Because there are no medals, or trophies at the end of your race. It’s just the joy of completing it, the satisfaction of knowing that your bleeding knees, scraped shins and sore glutes will heal tomorrow and then you can begin the next race.
So go on be a klutz. Keep falling. As many times as you can. Enjoy the fall. The rolling, the tumbling, the cuts and bruises. Because we all fall down. And then we get up and we keep on keeping on.

Written by Aparnaa Nagesh.