The Ups of Downs


I fell down the other day. It was sudden and the pavement was hard. I hadn’t expected to find patchy ice when I stepped outside to walk Danny and it was far colder than I had expected. The last thing that I wanted was for him to reinjure himself since he was finally on the road to recovery, but I wasn’t ready to head home either.  

We weren’t far from our house when I took that fateful step. I had been redirecting us to safer footing and I hit the ground with such force that I was momentarily stunned. In hindsight I remember thinking, “Thank goodness my phone is still okay,” as the audiobook I was listening to continued to play. Then I heard the concerned calls from my neighbor asking if I was alright. “I’m fine, no problem!” I called, as I jumped back to my feet and continued walking. 

It wasn’t until I was a block away that the tears filled my eyes and I wondered if I had hurt myself. Still, we continued walking into that cold wind. By the time we turned towards home, I was fairly confident that I had bruised myself quite nicely but nothing more serious. I can’t remember the last time I had a fall like that, I’m always really careful with my footing.

As the days have passed, the pain has changed. I find it interesting that when I first arrived home and inspected myself for injury, there wasn’t much to see. By the end of the day, I was beginning to turn purple in various areas. By the following day, I had even uglier bruising and a sore muscle in the other leg. The more I thought about it, the more I realized what a literal example of everyday life a fall is. 

Each day we’re given opportunities to take the safer route for fear of injury. People avoid risk because of the fear they’ll end up hurt, because of the unknown, because of potential worry. Day after day, I have taken that route and I’ve never fallen. I realized that there is no way for us to predict the step that will take us down. In the end what matters is picking ourselves up and taking those first few steps forward while we evaluate the damage. Broken bones, bruises and strained muscles will heal, but fear over the unknown will limit your living. You never know if the step that you take will leave you flat on your back but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take it. You should tread carefully and use good judgment, but don’t skip the walk entirely because of fear. You never know what you might miss out on.

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Heidi Van Heel

Heidi Van Heel

Writer, freelancer, and believer in magic living in Minneapolis. In my free time, I love reading, exploring the great outdoors, and experimenting in the kitchen.

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