Occasionally my husband’s job requires him to travel. Once in a while, I tag along. He works while I spend silent hours with books. Our trip to Denver was different. He worked and I discovered HGTV.
Forlorn and neglected, my books sat in a tidy stack on the bedside stand rather than spread across the desk. My attention was fixed on the transformation on the TV screen as I watched room after room go from dull and dysfunctional to lively and livable. What were books compared to the interesting ideas I could apply to our recently moved into home?
After two days I tore myself away from HGTV’s magnetic pull and propelled myself into the blinding light of the warm September sun. I set off down the sidewalk, crossed the street, stepped over the curb, and onto the grass between the curb and sidewalk. The next thing I knew, I was sprawled on the sidewalk like a chalk outline of a body at a crime scene.
A distressing reality dawned as I lay in a crumpled heap. I was on a sidewalk in front of a Wendy’s. It was the noon hour and there might have been witnesses. I needed to get up before I attracted attention.
It was too late. As I pushed myself into a sitting position, I saw him. A man was running toward me.
He was breathless when he reached me. ”Are you okay? I saw you fall down.” Great. I smiled and told him that I was fine, but what I wanted to do was find some Scout-Be-Gone spray and send him to do a good deed for someone else.
I peeled the rest of my already aching body off of the sidewalk and assured him that I was fine as I absent-mindedly rubbed the road rash on my cheek. “Oh! You fell on your face!” he exclaimed. My face smiled at him again but my mind was less gracious.
That’s when we both noticed my glasses, which had flown off in the force of the fall. He retrieved them, satisfied himself that I was going to make it, and left me to pick up the shards of my shattered dignity and limp back to the hotel.
My eye didn’t bruise too badly. The road rash was minor. My glasses escaped damage. I still had to explain it to my husband. Of course. Because he noticed. And he’s seen it before. He is, along with my parents and brother, children and friends, well aware of my lifelong tendency to tumble.
We went to dinner that night at an Italian restaurant down the road. We walked. We walked right through the valley of humiliation.
Maybe it was curiosity. Maybe it was a desire to place blame. Either way, I stopped to investigate the ground where I had fallen. I wanted to know what insidious device had thrown me to the sidewalk without time for even the face-saving parachute reflex to take over.
It was a hole.
Deep and narrow, just the size of the ball of my foot, it was cloaked by the evenly trimmed grass. It was small, but it had the power to ensnare me and take me down.
Isn’t it always the little things?
Consider my response to the kind man who rushed to my aid. Though I smiled and was externally thankful to him, internally I wanted him gone. I didn’t want his help or his sympathy. I didn’t want his presence. I didn’t want him to know.
What did it hurt that someone, anyone, knew that I face-planted on a sidewalk in Denver? Nothing but my pride. And that, my friends, is the real problem. I’d rather scrape myself up off the sidewalk alone than have witnesses to my faults, witnesses who are there to encourage and help and support, maybe even to pick me up when I fall.
I’d like to believe that
if when I trip again and some gracious person comes to my aid, that I would be grateful and just a little chagrinned rather than thankless and mortified. I’d like to hope that when I take a fall in my struggle against the flesh that I’d welcome the encouragement, help, and support that a witness is willing to give. I’ll know soon enough. Trip hazards are everywhere.
Trip hazards. Sometimes we see them. Sometimes they’re a surprise. How do you respond to the people who are there to help you when you fall?