Falling Down, Waking Up

Yesterday I fell down, and it hurt. But it also woke me up a little bit, and that’s a good thing. J and I were on a Sunday bike ride, tooling through downtown and as we passed the First Presbyterian Church, we both remembered, at the same time apparently, that I wanted some photos of the church bells – because they’re cool looking and I want to paint them. So, J crossed 5th Ave to get some up-close shots and I pulled over to the other side, thinking we would get shots from there. Once I realized he was across the street, I put my foot out to balance on the edge of the sidewalk and wait for him. But, apparently I misjudged where the sidewalk ended, my foot missed it and kept going down (the road dipped down), I lost my balance, and went down with it, landing on my wrist, ankle, and hip. It was a split second of traveling down, reacting, landing, regaining focus, and realizing I was OK, just a little sore. I wiggled out from under my bike, checked out the damage – just a little scuff on my ankle and palm and a sore wrist and hip – paused for a moment to regain breath and balance, then pulled myself up, dusted myself off, and assured J (and the nice older couple passing by in a car who asked if I needed help) that I was fine.

I recognized it as a teachable moment – teaching myself: Pay Attention, Be Focused and Present. It immediately brought to mind one of my favorite pieces of life guidance, as taught by Baron Baptiste:

We are either Now Here or No Where

The choice, as always, is ours. We can either choose to be really, fully Now and Here, or, by not actively choosing, we are somewhere else and, therefor, missing out on the power of Now and Here.

I believe this is one of the most simple, yet profound, lessons of human existence. We are born fully present in the Now and Here and exist, naturally in the moment, as babies and young children. But, as we develop, gradually our attention is pulled away to the past (memories) and future (desires/anticipations/plans.) So, as with many of life’s greatest lessons, we can re-teach ourselves, through awareness, and practice.

The Universe is there to assist us in awakening (enlightening) and uses a variety of tools and methods. Sometimes a little tough love, like falling down onto the sidewalk (I liken it to a zen master whacking a disciple), is big help. Just prior to the fall, I was distracted by a cool looking building and, not being Aware of what was in front of/below me, ran over a pretty deep manhole which could have thrown me from the bike. I thank the Universe for choosing a gentler teaching moment and I commit to living in the Now and Here with Awareness.

Another element of this lesson is that it happened while looking at the church bells. I see the bells as a symbol of spirituality, faith, the path of connecting with our true self and the higher powers of the universe. And I see my falling down, while looking at them, as a lesson that in order to learn and grow spiritually, we need to slow down and focus. First Presbyterian follows a Christian path, and refers to that universal power as “God”, which is not my chosen path (much more on that later), but from the writings on their website, I like the open-mindededness and, open-heartededness of their approach and will close with a quote from their site. I really, really like this reminder that the direction/guidance/answers we seek can be found Within. That is one of the best reasons to be fully present in the Now and Here: this moment is where we can connect to that infinitely wise and abundant inner power – our true self.

The guidance one seeks in spiritual direction comes…from the wisdom inherent in the seeker. Most of us have not been taught that we have within ourselves an “inner compass” of wisdom which will leads us into a life that is harmonious with God’s desires; that leads to creativity, peace and communion with God, self and others. As we learn to trust the “true North” of that interior compass, a sense of being companioned from within by One who loves us unconditionally is gradually strengthened.

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