Falling like a rockstar 6


Photo by majima82

The great philosopher Lao Tzu said, “Every journey begins with a single step.” And so my journey of getting back on a bike, after being hit by a car two years ago, began with a single pedal in Davis, California. About seven pedals later, however, I was on the ground, surveying the damage of my bloody kneecap and trying not to cry about it.

My friends were very gracious about the incident, even going so far as to praise me for it.

“Boy, you really know how to fall!”

“You fell like a rockstar! I’ve never seen something so graceful.”

“You should teach others how to fall off of things like you do.”

Okay, that last one was made up, but the point is, they were sympathetic. And encouraging.

The thing is, before I got hit by a car, I never fell off my bike. Which makes me think it was a fear-based fall. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. And I don’t enjoy it and it seems to hurl me deeper and deeper into isolation, from myself and my experiences. I’m losing my willingness to keep trying when the end result is falling on my head/face/knees.

I bet that sounds melodramatic. Ohmigod bruised knee! How did you go on?! And I do feel silly that my self-confidence can be so bludgeoned by a few scrapes or a dizzying back bend. But it’s like how if you’re told you’re stupid over and over again, you eventually start to believe it, even if it’s not true (especially if it’s not true). It’s attrition. Each fall is a falling away. And yet, the antidote, the trying over and over again with little difference in results? That’s crazy.

When I was little, I cried all the time. Every little thing would make me burst into tears. Getting my tee-ball picture taken, old folks homes, Sears commercials, losing to my brother in Connect Four. Then, in December of 2006, it stopped. I’d been crying off and on for two straight months before that, due to the many poor decisions – or actually the one poor decision I made over and over again – involving a lot of faked orgasms, frenemies, and the kind of desperation that’s as appalling as it is alluring. To put it even more vaguely, welcome to the Hotel California.

During that last crying jag in December, I had what my therapist would’ve called a “breakthrough” had I not recently decided that listening to Evanescence was far cheaper and more reliable therapy than anything offered at Howard Brown. Strangely, not being able to cry filled me with a kind of pride. Had I gotten over it? Was I somehow more evolved? Or was it a frightening regression that should’ve been remedied by punching myself in the face repeatedly while watching Hotel Rwanda?

Now, it seems, my childhood self has come back around, ready to spring a leak at the most inconvenient times possible – Oh hi, new supervisor. No no, I’m fine! I’ve just been punching myself in the face repeatedly.

How do we go back even further though, to the days when we were learning how to walk? When setbacks were amusing, funny even. We fell all the time! Did that deter us? Did we say, “Well, fuck it. It’s crawling from here on out.” Of course not. We got up and tried again.

There’s a joy to falling that I desperately need to learn again. Then and only then will I have truly earned the title of Falling like a Rockstar.

P.S. Go read my blog post at Mother Jones about who is the most powerful gay American. Leave a comment too ’cause the commenters on MoJo can be really mean and I don’t need to cry anymore!

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6 thoughts on “Falling like a rockstar

  • Shana

    I’ve still not learned how to do a cartwheel, but Hadj tells me that all I have to do is throw myself at the ground and miss.
    Could you be deeper into “breakthrough” mode? You know, the darkness before the dawn and all that?

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  • Theresa

    As women, I feel like we are blessed to be able to cry and it DOES help us with breakthroughs. Were you able to discern the reason you fell off your bike? Maybe it was rough terrain or some malfunction that threw you off balance. Plus, maybe you are not quite ON balance. I’m not trying to discourage you to get back on that horse but it helps to prepare yourself a bit before risking further injury.

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  • anna Post author

    Maybe there’s a breakthrough coming! I honestly don’t know. I can’t do a cartwheel either, Shana 🙂 though maybe I’ll try now….

    I fell off the bike braking too hard on a steep hill. Whoops. I landed on a log.

    Either way, thanks for the encouragement!

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  • john

    maybe you just need your own bike. something you can get used to and feel comfortable with. i.e. the brakes, the handling etc.

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  • Colin

    I had a hard time getting back into biking after my car accident, and I still worry about crashing more than I did previously. It’s hard. About the only thing that’s helped is reminding myself that, not only am I am tough enough to hit a car with my face and come out with little permanent damage, but that the car RAN AWAY from me afterwards. Because it was scared.

    I tried to learn how to snowboard this past winter and that involved nearly constant falling. It’s amazing how much easier it is to screw up when it involves something you don’t think you should be able to do already.

    And there’s definitely an art to falling. It’s something you get better at by making mistakes!

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  • anna Post author

    it’s good to hear that you got back on, colin. you’re a force to be reckoned with, fo sho.

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