My Desperate, Careening Near-Fall, In Eight Steps

I   The Bump
The front of my shoe into the root-raised sidewalk, in the early morning dark, immediate forced lurch and lean, gravity at play, my body a sudden projectile.

II  The Stutter
Left foot down hard, short and choppy, seeking a base, body and brain electric, woke, as they were not the barest moment ago.

III The Thrash
Alarm, surely going down, hard, fast and sprawling, on concrete, drive it, drive it!, right quad fully engaged, firing with everything it has, a millisecond’s wobble, oh no! push push, hang in, oh Lord, a severe rise in the sidewalk just ahead, damn these unkempt, insidious trees!

IV  The Veer
Faster still, a running back at 20 degrees, struggling for yardage and a smidge of stability, momentum forcing my body suddenly right, leaving the sidewalk, toward the sideyard morass, if rocks or roots await there, my ankle is toast.

V   The Stumble
Crashing the weeds, shrubs, indistinct greens, right foot seeking a tentative locus, a planting, body stumbling on, good-bye sidewalk, we’re in the jungle now.

VI  The Search
Full on through the foliage, staggering, desperate still in this tree-darkened shroud, footing unknown.

VII  The Righting
Another step, glimpse of solid dirt, a five-toe grasp, pushing free, body finding elevation, righting, momentum easing, brakes tapping at last.

VIII The Restoration
The way clear, level sidewalk to the left, a sheen of streetlight piercing through tree to earth, terra firma, solidity, final uprightness, relief.



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Falling photo by Mike, Beantown,

16 comments to My Desperate, Careening Near-Fall, In Eight Steps

  • David Jolly  says:

    Jeesh, Andrew. What a lot of work. Next time just fall and hope for the best?

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Oh, I did that a few months ago, David. Didn’t work out so well… :-)

  • Lisa  says:

    Wow glad you are okay. That must have been a scary adventure with no need for repeats ever! Our minds can sure do a lot of thinking in such a short time for survival.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      You got that right, Lisa. I was left with a lot of thoughts in the wake of this maybe 3-second episode, but probably chief among them was how much had been flashing through my mind the entire time, how much I was aware of even as my body was thrashing about on automatic, sheer survival mode. The wonders of adrenaline!

  • Angela  says:

    In these days of waning light and years of increasing age it seems that danger lurks in so many previously safe and innocuous places. 3 days from the shift to standard time I myself woke at 7:15 am this morning in a room every bit as dark as it had been at 11 pm when I turned out the light. Thinking (again) that my eyes would surely adjust and find enough light, I groped my way forward to the bathroom thinking “I hope I didn’t leave anything out to trip over..” Luckily there are no tree roots in my house!

    Beautiful capture here of the rapid sequence of safety to mortal danger, the continuum of rational thought interlaced with outright terror. My heart was racing to the conclusion, as I am sure yours was as well.

    I’m glad you are alright!!!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Angela, on an excursion out of town not long ago my daughter had stayed at my house, had a gathering, and the easy chair had been moved maybe a foot from its normal placement, something I barely noticed in the light of day. Feeling my way through the dark the next morning toward the coffee pot, I of course banged the crap out of my foot and shin, shocked, but knowing immediately what had occurred. I think that may be the chief warning by occupational therapists & the like: Don’t leave anything on the ground, and everything in its place!

      I’m glad both of our hearts are now back to normal; sorry I gave yours a start!

  • Jeanette Millard  says:

    Please please PLEASE let this be a metaphor for the past two years and this upcoming election!!!!
    p.s. glad you are okay, Love the Icarus/falling angel image.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      You are much too funny, Jeanette, though I must say, I wasn’t thinkin’ no schtinkin’ metaphors as my body tumbled through that space! (But yup, I hope your metaphoring is realized…)

  • Francine Phillips  says:

    Amazing writing. It does seem like slow motion when you are falling toward disaster. In 2016 I fell off a bicycle and broke my ankle and leg into 21 pieces. Despite the titanium, my ankle is still toast. I hope this is metaphorical, my friend.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Exactly, Francine: in the aftermath, taking another walk later on, I found myself re-creating the entire split-second episode, and the fact that I was able to do so attests to its slow-motion quality despite its fast-motion speed. Interesting computers we have here atop our shoulders!

      So sorry about that bike fall. Hard to even conceive of a 21-piece leg; yikes!

      My last bike tumble maybe 10 years ago landed me right on top of my head, happening so quickly that I couldn’t even get my arms out in front of me (which probably saved one or the other of them, plus my clavicle, from breaking). Was going a decent speed, too, so I’m convinced my helmet saved either my life or a very serious head injury. Sometimes it feels like I’ve long been on borrowed time, which, come to think of it, we all are, in any case, all the time…

      So very nice to hear from you, and keep that titanium moving along! :-)

  • Jay Helman  says:

    Be thankful for your athletic training and instincts, my friend. It sounds like you recovered your balance despite what could have/should have been a hard fall. All those moves you made to the hoop for all those years, all of those miles run on so many different surfaces served you well. The “computer” we have atop our shoulders is truly remarkable as it picks up and fires signals in milliseconds both when needed and when not. Nice get on the sequence of thoughts and reactions. I don’t know if our population is nimble enough, Jeannette, for this metaphor to hold. My goodness, Francine, 21 places? Hope all is restored and functioning.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Jay, when I took that bike spill referenced above in the response to Francine, I visited my chiro a couple days later with nothing more than a slightly cranky neck and he said almost exactly what you did: it was my lifelong conditioning that saved the situation from being a lot worse than it might have been. I definitely had the sense in Step III (“The Thrash”) that for one millisecond everything hung in the balance, and it was only via one last hard desperate push with my quad wobbling below me that finally allowed me to keep going to Step IV rather than crashing right then, with the whole jam, as it were, called off and me forlorn & mighty skinned & sore on the sidewalk (at best).

      I’m always reminded watching toddlers learn to walk how they get so much practice falling—and lucky for them, from such a low height! As adults, we almost never fall, get woefully out of practice at it, so it is good and highly advisable, methinks, to be as equipped & fortified as possible for when it does occur.

      • Jay Helman  says:

        Drew, on the theme of recovery, I was told by doctors and therapists that recovery from my life-threatening stroke 9 years ago was due, in large part, to being in good physical and mental condition as well as having the “know-how” and the will to work hard in therapy, including re-learning many basic functions such as how to walk, etc. Maintaining good physical and mental habits are critical to our well-being as we age.

        • Moon  says:

          Once again, I am amazed by Dr.Helman insights, Dr. Drew writing abilities, and ERHS people in general…You guys inspire me to be a better man.

  • James Malin  says:

    As a master’s hurdler, I know the raw feel of “THE FALL” but haven’t seen a millisecond breakdown such as this. It is pretty brilliant. This season alone I have hit the track twice in competition and at least ten times in practice, and Jay Helman is SO RIGHT, the muscle memory takes over and allows the athlete to roll or right oneself most of the time. I rue the day when my body fails me and I thud down for the count.

    Fran, 21 places??? That’s not right on several levels. Hang in and keep up whatever it or physical therapy you can get.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Having seen a million hurdles races in my lifetime (Oh, OK, maybe just a few thousand…), but devotedly avoiding running any, I am reminded of how many times I saw contestants go through virtually the exact same maneuvers I did in this episode: stumble, stutter, thrash, veer, the whole bit. Such a monumental struggle to keep one’s feet after being knocked severely off balance, and perhaps we can let that, too, stand as one of Jeanette’s cherished metaphors!

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