I went running today at my local park.
It's not my 'most' local park, but with non-essential shops re-opening tomorrow here in the UK, I figured the po-po (little Sally Stanley tells me this is slang for police on the mean streets of Liverpool these days – in my day, I'd have plumped for 'rozzers') would have more significant targets in their sights than Sunday morning joggers a couple of miles away from their homes.
Part of me wishes I had stayed closer to my house, because, for the first time since I was a kid, I fell over.
Phone in hand, earphones in, The Wombats where telling me they were moving to New York cos they had problems with their sleep. I was in the moment for once, focusing on the music, appreciating the perfect running weather and not thinking about anything more than putting one foot in front of the other. My Fitbit watch buzzed to smugly congratulate me that I was halfway through my 5k run.
Next minute, I caught my right foot on a large stone. Poking itself out just enough above the ground to take my foot from under me.
With reflexes I'd had no need to test in years, I threw my hands in front of me, and let out an embarassingly loud 'HUH!' as the air was rudely smacked out of my lungs.
The palms of my hands were smarting but numb. My right knee and shin, grazed and starting to bleed. My middle-aged neck whipped and lashed with the impact. My pride, on show for all to see, battered.
Some folks stopped and turned, but no one said anything. In that split second when I was on the ground, a voice in my head said “Seth – that's your cue to turn it in. Take the short cut through the park, get in the car and go home. Patch yourself up. Come back better next time.”
My aching bones sang in agreement. It's quittin time, Seth. Turn it in.
And for the first time in a long time, I wondered what my dad would say at a time like this. A man, let it be said, before he died in 2009, who was not exactly fond of acting on his own advice! Nevertheless, he would happily tell anyone who would listen what they should have done, and how they should have acted in any given situation.
I heard his voice clearly asking me – “Are you going to let that scratch put you off your stride? Or are you going to get up and finish your run?”
I thought instantly of a time I fell as a child, coming out of school. My dad had picked me up, which was rare and I fell and really hurt my knee. I started to cry.
He pointed out a crack in the pavement near where I fell and said “See that? You caused that crack when you fell. Your knee was strong enough to break the concrete. So why are you crying?”
I instantly stopped, taken in by this age old trick.
I smiled to myself today, thinking about this memory. I picked myself up, pulled some tiny stones out of my knee and carried on running.
As I was picking my run back up after being so rudely interrupted, I started to think about some of the other times I'd fallen over in my life. Metaphorically speaking.
Because it's not always a physical trip or a stumble that lands you on your ass. And it's not always so easy to pick yourself up.
Death, personal loss, financial hardship, global pandemics – these are some of the things that can really start to chip away at your soul. They take character, a positive outlook and support from family and friends to overcome.
Me? I try to be philosophical about things. Whatever life throws at you, whatever highs and lows you experience – you are here, you are alive and this is your opportunity to make the best of things.
We don't all get an equal crack at this. Some people lead blessed lives, with good health. Some people's lives are filled with tragedy and hardship. But whatever our circumstances, this is our shot. Our time.
When life peeks above ground for you to stub your toe on and fall over – reach deep into the memory banks for whatever you have to make you get back up again.
Life has a habit of dealing out lemons. When it does, reach for the salt and grab some tequila. Sometimes lemonade just won't cut it.