“…Anyone who enters can be a champion. But to become one, you have to learn how to get hit.”
“You treat mistakes as final, but they almost never are.”
“You need more scars. You need to live.”
“I have the super power of trying one more time.”
-A Steward Kiddio
He was playing by himself. Lost in a 5-year-old world of make believe. The couches were probably space ships or rafts floating in a sea of lava. He was probably one of the X-Men or an Avenger, or a Power Ranger, or possibly even an Airbender.
He was jumping and spinning in his acrobatic, highly athletic and rhythmic way. Dodging bad guys and incorporating karate whenever necessary. Occasionally he would make stirring motions with his arms, as if he was wrapping the whole room up around his wrists and then he would fling his arms forward tossing everything straight to the ground with a surging power.
I was reading on a couch on the far side of the room, a couch that had not managed to be transformed quite yet into any sort of transportation device. Looking up every now and then to assess the damage of flinging body parts, I found myself smiling at his boyish intensity.
Lost in a paragraph of my book, I jumped when I heard a smack on the floor. I couldn’t see him. I could only guess he had missed the leap from one piece of furniture to the next and had landed wounded somewhere in between. I looked over anticipating the tears and the jumping, something he has taken to doing when he is hysterically hurt and angry-scared about it. But the tears didn’t happen, and neither did the jumping. Instead I heard a groan, and then in an irritated voice, “Why do I have to fall?”
This was the contemplation moment, as if he was asking himself, “Do I break character or do I incorporate this into my story?”
And then in a sort of encouraging whisper to himself, like a dawn of insight was breaking with the careful choosing of every passing word, he said, “I fell, so the missiles wouldn’t get me! I would rather get hurt than die.”
He stood to his feet, and within a split second was spin-kicking the bad guys who had crept up on him in his moment of weakness. He was back at it, completely unaware that the woman in the spaceship on the far end of the room was reaching for a marker and an index card so she could document the truth she had heard echoing in his words.
Our battles are incomparable, our bad guys dressed in different costumes, but the lesson is the same. It hurts to fall, and we hate that it’s in our nature. It’s infuriating to have our plans not play out like we expected, and it’s embarrassing to lay there in a crumpled ball on the floor.
We so desperately want to blame ourselves or someone else, to rage with tears or jumping or an angry voice screaming, “You idiot. You screwed up.” But the thing is, as we lay there in a heap of supposed failure, that dawn of insight breaks, and we have the option of letting the light expose us, so that it can also heal us. The light that tells us, “You made quite an impressive leap and guess what? It didn’t kill you! You’re still very much alive! And wouldn’t you rather get hurt than die?”
We have the option of incorporating the fall into our heroic story.
Groaning, squinting at the light and dusting off our highly wrinkled super hero cape, we rise to our feet and think, “Yes, yes I suppose I would.” No sooner do we stand we feel the swipe of a sword move through the air, just missing our throat, leaving us no time for nursing wounds. Just like that we’re back in it, and somehow, if we let ourself, we feel stronger for the falling.