just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness

We All Fall Down

Published on 26/10/21
by randy

Mojo and myself Howling and Toning for Healing

It’s inevitable that we will fall down at some points in our life.  The key is knowing how to fall without it turning into serious injury.  Falls during our later years can be serious, many leading to failure in healing.  Our injuries from falling and our successful falls without injury can be our greatest gift, however.  When I was twelve I severely injured my leg in a farm accident.  The healing took a year and I learned very early how special the body is, how letting go expectation for appreciation healed the body and mind.  Hospitalized for a month, in a wheel chair for three months, and on crutches for nine months, it brought me to an attitude of acceptance and minimal complaint.  During the Cuban missile crisis, experiencing our seventh grade civics teacher directing us to hide under our desks in the event of a nuclear bomb, there was a levity in my attitude that few of my fellow classmates had.  My father and our Norwegian heritage had set a high bar for “no complaint, no complaint”and lower reactivity. There was a realization that worry, panic and complaint just didn’t contribute to the healing.  The Lutheran farming community taught the mantra “suck it up”, face the pain and move on.  My knee surgeon was a brilliant, compassionate man with sparkly blue eyes.  He mentored me through the pain of recovery and he suspected I’d need an artificial knee in ten years.  After four years of successful football and track, after a dedicated weight training program, I discovered yoga. I have had a twenty minute routine for most of my live and for the past ten years have a daily practice of 60-90 minutes….and I still have that wonderful knee almost sixty years later.  It was the continuation of balance practice and learning to fall with grace.  With all of my active lifestyle sports I’ve generally been graced with falls escaping injury.  I’ve come to realize the critical components of “fit” and “awareness practice”.  In yoga, the word “asana” means “balanced posture”.  One spiritual teacher has told me our life’s work is to find and hold our posture through whatever comes up.  It’s very hard work, especially today when so many are trying to pull us off balance.

In the mid-80’s I broke my ankle in the early days of snowboarding before they had supportive snowboard boots.  In the late 90’s I completely snapped my Achilles tendon because my windsurf footstraps didn’t fit properly.  I’ve broken my toes a few times because I missed the footstrap trying to jam my foot in.  Yesterday, on my first turn of the day with my wing board, I fell, landing on the board instead of in the water.  My right leg was bent, ankle rolled, and I landed with my full body weight, breaking my ankle.  I suspect this awkward fall was a result of wearing neoprene boots with a sole that sacrificed the feel of the turn.  The foot pressure on a hydrofoil board is very delicate and for me, doesn’t lend itself to lost board contact.  My inference is that the thicker boots contributed to the awkward fall.  My experience suggests boots with minimal sole thickness and gloves no more than 2mm thick. I had just finished a two hour mountain bike and recognize now that my awareness was not complete.  Had I been fresh I suspect I would have recognized the poor fit.  And yet, how many times we stay in relationships failing to recognize what a poor fit they are.  And then we may fall down.

(This year’s Midwest wing boarding log:  Lake Superior- 13, Forest Lake- 21, White Bear Lake- 6, St. Croix River-25, Clear Lake Iowa- 3, Spirit Lake Iowa- 2, Cannon River- 5, Mille Lacs- 6, Waconia- 3, Calhoun- 5, GreenLake Spicer- 4)


This season I’ve been foiling almost eighty times.  Each time has been between two and five hours.  I’ve fallen thousands of times from my wingboard, into the water, not on the board.  In California winters, I SUP surf almost five times a week.  Yet, one day without proper awareness, I fell on the board and twisted my knee.  

We feel fortunate to escape the Minnesota winters and the dangerous ice.  With Covid, Jane and I stayed in Minnesota for the first winter in fifteen years.  In March she slipped on the ice and damaged a vertebrae that took six weeks to heal. The cold and ice just don’t fit us anymore.

I think we all want healing.  We all do what we can to cultivate a sense of stability on such an unstable platform.  A daily practice of awareness and balance helps us see what’s a good fit and what’s not.  Whether it’s the environment we put ourselves in, the foods we ingest, the media we consume, the friends and family we hang with…..awareness brings to light those elements that foster healing, health and wholeness.  A dedicated awareness practice will help us move more gracefully through our day, and in the event of a fall, will help us maneuver through the event without risking or increasing injury.

Yesterday’s weather conditions were a perfect fit for me.  My unavoidable expectations filled my head.  I was just getting my gybes, toe side riding and tacks down after falling all through the season.  Those expectations were smashed with that first turn and I now had to figure out how to get back to shore with strong winds and cold water.  After a few minutes floating in the water it became clear I couldn’t stand on my one leg.  Kneeling on the board I taxied the one mile back to shore and moved very carefully as I changed clothes, packed my gear and readied for the two hour drive home. The real work was to let go the expectations and sense of disappointment.  It was time to put full awareness to driving and safely getting to the hospital.  It was time to “make space to find the gift in the given”.  When I made it to shore the sun came out and there was a partial rainbow over beautiful Lake Superior.  My car was working.  Healing was already happening.  The process of letting go was underway as I saw leaves tumbling through the fall air.  The leaves remaining on the tree were glorious, knowing full well they, too, will fall to the ground.  It brought me back to The Five Remembrances: 1. It’s of human nature to experience disease and injury, 2. It’s of human nature to age, 3. It’s of human nature to say good-bye to the body, 4. It’s of human nature to say good-bye to everything, everyone one, holding on to nothing, 5. It’s the results of our speech, thoughts, and actions that live on.  This awareness always brings me to pause.  It’s so easy to needlessly cause injury and pain to others.  Some say our purpose here is to do what we can to ease the suffering of others.  That’s much more difficult.  In the meantime, I want to do what I can with intention and attention to not causing harm.  This comes from awareness practices aimed to hold balance, equanimity, and a posture that’s not grown from negative thoughts and emotions.

A little over a decade ago I blew a landing from a kiteboard jump and my two year old grandson screamed out, “DeDa go boom”.  He got so much enjoyment from the big splash that I continued to land butt first instead of softly landing the board.  It wasn’t graceful, but it was done with a sense of stewardship to the relationship I had with him, all the while holding attention to the care of my own body.  Awareness can bring us to that place where we fall without injury, or at least dramatically minimize our risk of serious injury. Stunt men and women are amazing at this.  

My mother had two months with stomach cancer before she gracefully fell.  My father had a dementia that took several years before he fell.  They both came to that place of “no complaint, no complaint” as they moved through the pain and suffering of the impermanent body.  They set the bar high, but showed me the importance of doing what I can to ready for a noble death.  This letting go, falling gracefully, knowing there is a grounding in the groundless, is what spiritual

practice seems to be about.  The theologian Paul Tillich has written, “Love is stronger than death”.  I think healing is stronger than falling and find great joy in surrendering to the healing process, waking up from the illusion of our separateness.


A pocket full of posies

A tissue, a tissue

We all fall down

The falling leaves drift by my window

The falling leaves of red and gold

I see your lips the summer kisses

The sunburned hands I used to hold

That's it. What Next?

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