Yesterday Dave and I spent three hours hiking at Lebanon Hills Regional Park, one of my favorite parks within a 30 minute drive from where we now live. Largely dirt paths through forested areas and, once we put some distance between ourselves and the trailhead, very quiet except for the birds in the trees and the ducks on the lake.
Walking over some wet leaves on the path, I tripped over a hidden tree root. Unable to catch my balance, I went sprawling on the ground, my right forearm and hip taking the brunt of the fall. The scrape on my forearm is not a pretty sight. We had water to clean the worst of the debris from the area, but no first aid supplies with us. (And, of course, I fell at the point furthest from the trail head, the point at which the way from which we came and the return route were about equidistant.) It only stung at first, but within a half mile the sting turned to stiffness and pain.
We can’t stop all our falls. It is true I might have been able to break the fall had I been using my walking poles, but maybe not: two of my three falls on the Camino occurred while I was walking with poles. It is true that mindfulness of our surroundings minimizes the likeliness that we will fall, but I was paying pretty careful attention to the path. Sometimes, no matter how careful and mindful we are, we will fall.
The only question is how do we respond to our falls, physical or otherwise. We can be annoyed with ourselves or the situation. We can feel sorry for ourselves. Or we can pick ourselves up, wipe ourselves off, and keep walking.
We enjoyed the rest of the hike yesterday.
It is true that some of our falls are a lot more serious than a stumble in the park, no matter how much pain that causes. But it is also true that it is always our choice how to respond to our falls.