Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Existentialist Analyzes Falling

I'm 52.

I don't fall easily.

Two days ago, walking along in my church's parking lot, in what can only be described as the utter caprice of the universe, I fell down. No obvious reason; I didn't trip. I suppose I just fell off my shoes.

It was unlike I've fallen in the past, where I take a few extremely ungracious steps forward in a hollow attempt to keep myself from actually hitting the ground.

No. This was SPLAT. One second I'm walking along, talking to Cindy, our church administrator, and the next I'm flat out on the rough cement.

I hurt my arm, and that's been an irritating inconvenience, but more than that, and the subject of this post, is how upsetting the whole experience is for me. Not the arm -- the fall itself.

I'm an existentialist, big-time. I'm fascinated by issues of responsibility, freedom, guilt, authenticity, reality, death, control. And there's something about falling, at 52 years old, anyway, that is quite death-like and quite without freedom to choose.

Falling, I experience being completely out of control. I can't predict it. I can't change the fact that it's happening. And being so out of control, no matter how much faith I have, there's an element of fear involved.

Falling is transforming. "Transformation" is the universe going about its work, i.e.: The process or result of changing from one appearance, state, or phase to another. When I found myself on the ground, the only orienting factor I had was Cindy's voice. Other than that, my whole world was not what it had been. I knew not where I was. I knew not who I was. Vaguely, I was aware of pain in my arm--but what's an "arm" when the whole concept of "body" has left me? And although I heard Cindy speaking, I couldn't understand her. The state of my being had abruptly metamorphosed from orientation to utter disorientation. Sheer terror of not knowing...is that what Alzheimer's patients feel as their disease progresses?

In a way, it's like waking up in the night. Gossamer floating awareness, then I open my eyes into darknss and wonder. Misty uncertainty. Vague sense of someone next to me. Breathing, his and mine. Slow movement back into my body. Ahhh, it's today......I'm me.......That's David....We're in our bedroom....

Falling is like that. Slowly I come back into myself, now changed and dealing with a different reality of fractured arm. Tears come but don't overflow. Laughter comes as the image of what I must've looked like appears in my mind's eye.

But then the next few hours are a mixture of being practical and doing what I need to do, while also experiencing repeated invasions of fear. After orientation returns, the terror of what happened is its unwanted guest. The shock of complete freefall to the hard, rough cement. The horror of not knowing ... anything. The powerful sense of needing to be cared for and held--no change there from when I was seven and fell off my bike and cried and cried and cried. There's a terrible aloneness involved in pain. And then there's the memory of those moments of not knowing. Perhaps it's that memory more than anything else that leaves my whole world turned upside down for several hours.

I've been told that I analyze too much.

Ya think? :-)

4 comments:

Jan said...

Maybe too much analyzing, but it's you. You have interesting awarenesses when you travel these journeys. What went on in your heart then, or were you wholly yourself?

Kathy Doerge said...

Loving you, dear Katy.

mompriest said...

analyse too much? I don't know about that...I do like the way you think and your self-awareness....

Rev SS said...

just catching up .. I'm with mp ... I love your self-awareness and the way you articulate your thought process