We are never more human than when we fall down.
I’m not the faller downer. I’m a person who perseveres, kicks it into gear, sweats it out, and quite often stumbles because I’m one of the clumsiest blondes you’ve ever met, but, on the reg, I keep my feet below me.
Watching people fall down is a knee-jerk, gut-busting laugh reaction and then I run to see if the person is alright or not. Yeah? You too? Don’t lie.
I’ve even had a friend who I saw bust it hard a few years back in the same park where I found myself this morning, staring at the jagged, rumpled ground. Y’all, there are some jerk fence-makers around, and they need to be told a thing or two. And the first thing is not to make fences out of a single piece of wire.
After some work-out/kid run time at the park this morning, I loaded the toddler into her airy seat, with the radio playing some bumpin’ tunes, and readied myself to pass over the wire “fence” aka “deathtrap.” I mean, I saw it. I knew it was there. Not moments earlier, I’d warned said toddler not to trip over it. So, in raising my foot up, somehow the force of my electromagnetically radiating personality drew the “fence” aka “hell cable” toward the toe of my shoe. As if the booby trap knew I wanted to start my day off awesomely, it adhered to my laces. For some reason, the oxygen under my foot didn’t let me use it as a step, jerk oxygen, and my other shin hit the wire, and folks, we were going down. Simone Biles or Gabby Douglas might applaud my feet-over-headsing. It’s possible my feet, like, I don’t even know what they did. I think I blacked out with embarrassment.
Palms hit the white rock gravel with a crunch, and my right shin rocketed into itself in red-hot, molten pain. Rolling onto my side, I crammed my eyelids shut. Hopefully no one saw and no one was running over, or laughing hysterically across the playground. They probably were.
I just kind of lay there, absorbing the hurt and the slicing apart of confidence in my ability to tread upon the earth one step at a time. Both palms burned, instant bruising welling up. Surprisingly, only a little blood eeked out. As I rolled over to look at my shin, the urge to melt into the earth at that point began to take over. But, not being a stick of butter, I sat up, and cringed at the insta-welt on my shin. The line from the wire shoved into the skin, forcing the golfball-sized lump of skin above the indention to stick out, red and fiery. Jerk fence-makers.
Toby Mac’s catchy bass rhythm played next to me in the car, and I figured I’d best get into the car before some stranger drove by and wondered why I sat on the ground on the gravel. I hobbled into the driver’s seat. My toddler immediately asked in a soft, concerned voice, “Fall down, momma?”
“Yes. I fell down.”
“Yeah. I’m alive.”
“I give you a check up.”
“We’ll do that at home. That sounds good.”
Honeybuns, there are four kinds of people when human be humans: the fence-makers, the faller downers, the laughers, and the fixers. Every one of us falls down, no matter how careful you plan your steps.
On my journey to getting published, I sent out 61 queries to publishers, agents, and authors. Sixty-one. After twenty, you begin to think you don’t have it in you to take another ‘no.’ After thirty-five, you wonder if you speak the same language as they do, if they actually read your email, if you have wasted the last ten years of your life, and if you want to ‘really do this.’ After forty-five, I stopped for several months. I didn’t send out batch emails to whom it may concern, but researched each recipient, spending hours upon hours of time over the course of nine months working on these queries. Then I attended an event called a Pitchapalooza and spoke with over twenty agents and editors, face-to-face, pitching my book. Some straight-up told me after two sentences they were uninterested and I should move on.
And honestly, I think if I hadn’t gone to the RT Booklover’s convention in Las Vegas, I wouldn’t have gotten a contract.
So if you think about it, I pitched my book to about eighty people and got straight-up rejected. Speak to the hand. Hands on the gravel.
Rejection gets to you.
It may not be right away, because if you get into some kind of career that you KNOW is HARD, and EVERYONE tells you it’s HARD, you expect it to be hard. But. You come out on the other side of it a different person. No one can say just what rejection will do to another person. It can make a person bitter, hard, strong, quiet, poor, broken, hopeless, angry, drunk, smoothed out, squashed, fat, hyper, totally flippin’ sad, or cooled off. Rejection is falling down. I know, I know, that old waaaaaay overused analogy about falling down and getting back up, blah blah.
But today when I ate gravel for brunch, my palms took the brunt of the pressure, and now they’re scarred. Hopefully not too much. They hurt. They’re shaking. They’re sore. That is falling down. That is rejection. And on the other side of falling down, in the laying down in the gravel, under the open blue skies, another person stands up. She’s humiliated, she’s actually hurting, she’s cut open. She doubts her own feet. She doubts her fellow human. She doubts the jerk fence-makers. She wants to crawl into bed.
But she drives home and has some coffee, and then with trembling hands, moves on, even if that means falling down again eventually.
Don’t be a jerk fence-maker, because that is everybody. Everybody is a jerk fence-maker. The mass of blank faces, they are the meanies and bullies who pronounce limits and deadlines and clichés and comments on political articles. They are the people who say it can’t be done. They are the people who point out the flaws. They are the people who come up with half-witted, cheap, wrecked solutions. Seriously, a single wire for a fence? Jerks (#edited), all of ‘em!
And the laughers, that’s a lot of people too. I’m a laugher, I raise my hand. But then I'm always right there, ready with a cup of coffee and a wipey.
But then there are the fixers. My little girlie’s few words expressing her concern brought me back to goodness. If you love someone, you don’t want her to fall down. You don’t find joy in her nosedives. You rush to her side, you bring some coffee, you find the nearest, hugest bar of chocolate and pink bandaids and get that swelling down. Be the fixers. Because, since we all fall down, we need the fixers to remind us that the falling isn’t all there is to it.
I don’t know if you are trying some new skill or career or hobby. Maybe you’re not doing anything different at all and still fumbling around. After all, a walk in the park is supposed to be………
Watch out for the death cables, yo. Close your ears to the laughers. Shake off the cuts and the broken pride. Rise up fearless, rise up shaking, rise up a little scruffier and more resilient. Slough off the rocks embedded in your aching skin. After one agent told me to my face she didn’t want to represent my book, I took several spinning steps away from the line, absorbing in the ruckus of pitches happening around me in that conference room. I walked up to the next agent, shaken and stirred, a little more hopeless, a little hardier, if not entirely lost for confidence. It’s not fun. It’s not funny (at the time). It’s falling down.
But it led to the publisher who glowed with excitement over my pitch. And that was gold. That was the fist pounding the sky in resolution. That was the win.
That was the next step in a series of hard steps.
But it’s life, and the bent of vocation. So we follow that burning desire, carrying with us some wire-cutters, a first-aid kit, and the hands of those who focus on the fix in the midst of the falling down.
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