Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Learning How to Fall

Yesterday I decided to take my two kids and one of their friends to The Cleveland Children's Museum. The trip started off relatively uneventfully. We played in the sand pit, sorted faux veggies at the farm, ate some lunch and chilled at the water table.

Things started to get interesting when my almost 5-year-old decided that he was ready to climb this:


Ok, so bear in mind that 2-year-olds make it up and down this bad boy without incident, but my dear son is one of the most cautious human beings on the planet. He's big for his age, he'll throw elbows at the train table with the best of them, but when it comes to anything remotely dare devil-esque he is out.

But when his friend started scrambling to the top of water cycle thing, Jack was right behind him. The problem is that when he got to the top he was terrified of coming back down. And by terrified I mean literally quaking with fear. His little foot was shaking as it searched for the next step down, but he couldn't see it and he couldn't feel it. He was sure he was going to fall.

So my daughter and I sat at the bottom and watched him freak out. Museum personnel climbed the outside netting to talk him through it. A fellow mom the size of a 10-year-old squeezed up to the top to try to guide him down. But 45 minutes later the kid would not budge.

By this time a small crowd had gathered on the ground. I felt the stares of the other mothers as they judged me for being a mom lax enough to let her scaredy cat son get so high with no hope of getting down.

But what could I do? I cheered for him, called out instructions, I even tried to squeeze up the damn exhibit. (Yeah, that just wasn't happening. Trust me.)

The whole experience got me thinking. How often in life do we climb to the top with no plan for how the hell we're going to get back down to safety? When Laura and I started writing together we were like Jack. We scrambled to the top without ever bothering to look down. We figured we'd be the exception to all the rules. We'd get our books published and we'd be rich and famous.

And then we fell.

And you know what? It hurt like a bitch. Bruised egos aren't fun. But instead of moping at the bottom we climbed right back up. We started a new project, found better beta readers and kept writing.

And then we fell again.

But the key is we keep climbing, keep striving. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. You've got to be willing to take the fall.

As for Jack, he literally had to be pulled down by the 90-pound mother. It wasn't pretty. But I sure hope he decides to make the climb again the next time we're there.

What about you guys? Do you know how to fall?

50 comments:

Candyland said...

Unfortunately, it's all I seem to be good at!

Cheree said...

I definitely know that feeling, but when you're down there's only one place you can go. Now, that's something I keep telling myself.

Kimberly Franklin said...

Falling terrifies me, but I'm still climbing. I guess I'm stubborn or something. ; )

Ian said...

I'm sorry but when I read the title real quick (remember me? I'm the dude with major ADD), I thought it said "learning to fail".

I was all ready to post something like - hey, I'm the best at this, but I can always learn more! lol

Jen said...

Does one ever really learn how to fall? I think all of us are divers, diving right in without figuring out how we will be able to climb to the tob, or in this case we strive to reach the top of the mountain with no intention of worrying about coming down.

I guess it's going to hurt like a bitch for me as well! Great post!

Heidi Willis said...

Well said! I fell out of a tree house when I was about Jack's age. It was a long way down, with a lot of branches in between. I spent four more years climbing up into that tree house.

I hope he goes back... and makes it down himself. There's nothing like the pride of conquering something you fear!

(and the same goes for adults and writing. Without the falls/fails we wouldn't cherish the success so much)

Now I'm feeling all zen for the day...

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Yep, I know how to fall. Gracefully on my feet, ready to walk to the next challenge.

Yeah, right!

I always land on my butt. Hard.

Love the story. So been there with my own kids. :)

MeganRebekah said...

I hope he decides to go back up again too! Learning to face our fears is one of the most empowering things in life.

(and is it wrong that I laughed a little at this scene? once I knew Jack was okay of course)

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Falling stinks but there is only one thing to do...get yourself up and try again!

Christine Fonseca said...

Reminds of a line from my fav movie - Batman Begins...why to we fall, so we can learn to pick ourselves back up!...

So glad you guys learned how to fall, so glad we get to read your book soon *wink*

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I love this, and bless that little guy's heart! I've got a Jack at home, too.

Tara said...

Oh Lisa, great post! Oh Jack, I can so picture this entire scenario!

Keep climbing my friend!

Corey Schwartz said...

This is a fabulous post, Lisa! Love it! (might even be a PB idea in there somewhere :)

Christina Lee said...

I am so DANG good at it now.

You poor thing. I love that museum and yeah that contraption is wacky. I hope next time he climbs it too! Go Jack!

Valerie Geary said...

Yup. This post is perfection. :)

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I love that you gave your son the opportunity to experience both success and failure. That's such an important thing--and shows how much you love him!

Southern Princess said...

Wonderful post!

Yes I know how to fall, heck I know how to dive head first off the top, screaming like a banshee all the way down. For me it is how I react once I hit the ground that matters most. Do I just blindly climb again only to have the same results? or do I look at the mountain, assess the different nooks & footholds THEN climb back up so that when next I fall I might land on the shorter ledge below or maybe just maybe find that nice cushion-y bush to help ease the pain.

Visit My Kingdom Anytime

Dominique said...

As they said in Batman Begins, "Why do we fall? So we can learn to get back up."

I have some experience getting myself into high places without checking first how to get back down. Usually, if you look for it, there's a way, even if it's not entirely pain-free.

ChristaCarol said...

I learned early on how to fall. My child/teenhood was chocked full of nothing but rejection. I'm glad for it if only for the fact I've got tough skin and have learned to bounce back and plow on.

Erica said...

Great post! What a scary thing for Jack though... but yes, if he doesn't try he'll never learn how to overcome it!

Let's see... Yes, I've fallen many times, and yes I've come back up, not in writing yet (too early to tell yet,) these are personal falls, but they affect everything... I suspect there is a lot of falling in my future, but a lot of climbing and reaching peaks too ;o)

Stephanie Thornton said...

This is a great post!

I don't like falling. Most of the time I refuse to fall. I guess I trip, pretend no one saw it, and keep going.

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

awww poor Jack, but great post.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I absolutely LOVE this post! Perfect, perfect analogy. I've been saving a quote that is similar to this idea. I think sometimes the only way to make forward progress is to make the climb blindly - if we don't believe we can do it (whether we can or not) we'll never try.

Patti said...

Sometimes it's the journey that make us better. Even if it means going up a hill a few times.

Tere Kirkland said...

This post reminds me of when my cat got stuck up in a tree. He came down eventually, and was definitely wiser for the experience.

Until the next time he got stuck in a tree. ;)

Melissa said...

I avoided writing for YEARS because of that very fear, but not anymore. I know it will hurt when the rejections come in, but in the long run it will hurt worse if I don't even try.

Krispy said...

Love the message of this post, and the cute story! Random aside, that water cycle thing looks fun. I'm often sad that I'm too big and told old to be clambering up things like that without people giving me funny looks.

Icy Roses said...

Awww, what a good story! Darn you people making lessons out of random life experiences like that. Btw, I kind of want to climb that exhibit now. I could probably pass for a junior high kid. Next time I go to Cleveland, I'll make a note of it. :)

Tamika: said...

Love this post! Writing looks exactly like this exhibit. Staggering, high, and unstable. Lord help us all!

Sarah said...

Great post (poor Jack!). I'm always terrified of falling, but I try not to let it keep me from climbing. As Miley Cyrus (hey, I can quote her. She's qualified to be an Idol mentor, after all.) says, It's all about the climb.

Katie said...

This post made me hyperventilate remembering when my child got stuck in the McDonald's plaything and I had to crawl up in it to get her.

At the top, squished-in and confused as to how to get out, I had to plaster myself against the bubble window and scream to the parents below to direct me down.

I was so clausterphobic I thought I would literally have a stroke and die up there in the steaming hot tubes with sticky four year olds raging all around me.

Oh lawsy, I feel like I'm gonna have a spell just typing this.

Whew.

Carolyn V. said...

I love this post! You're right, we have to keep climbing up (over and over again). =)

Christine Danek said...

This is a great post! I am still climbing but I know falling will come. I have to take my journey one step at a time. It will be so bad when I fall but I'll have to get right back up (how I'm going to do this I don't know).

Elana Johnson said...

I've fallen down so many times, that sometimes it's easier just to stay down for a while. But somehow, I always manage to pick myself up again. Someone else might dust me off, but there's no way I'm quitting.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

What an adorable story. Poor Jack!! I've climbed up many a Water Cycle Exhibit and gotten stuck at the top. Sometimes I pick my way down and sometimes I fall, (I've never been carried down by a 90-lb mom...yet), but I always learn something valuable. I bet Jack did too. Life's a bitch that way!

Loved this post!!

Daisy Whitney said...

Great post and a good reminder to keep falling and keep climbing!

Hayley said...

Falling? I'm great at it!
Getting up not so much, before I fall I take my sweet time to get up to the top. And falling hurts, I'm working on it though. The scrambling to get to the top (because I need to hussle lets face it) and picking myself up when I fall.

Kim said...

Great post! Unfortunately, I'm a Jack. I need the 90 lb mom to help talk me down.

Hope the real Jack will try again. Tell him if he does, I will too. :)

Marsha Sigman said...

Tuck and Roll...tuck and roll. Thats my new motto.

This is an awesome post.

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Ha--you're talking to a girl who went to the number one film school in the country, without ever having held a video camera. Talk about a crash. Climbed up to join some of the better people in my class, then hit the semester from Hell and came crashing down in the Campaign to get Shannon Failed. A teacher sided with me and gave me an awesome internship: climbed back up, only to realize...I HATE working in Hollywood. Hm...your almost-five-year-old and I have a lot in common. If only I were as cute as him. ;)

insidethewritersstudio said...

One of the first things I remember learning from my father was how to fall.

"Land sideways and bend your knees," he said.

He might have added that falling can be "kind of fun."

Amazing, the power the persuasiveness of parental words. I'm thirty-five, and I still think falling can be fun.

Jill Kemerer said...

Oh, your little guy was very brave to go up. He'll be brave enough to come down when he's ready, even if he doesn't go up again until he's 22.

The first time I fell with writing, I too was naive and I fell all the way down. Now, the falls are shorter, and much easier to get back up.

Jemi Fraser said...

Poor little guy & poor you! - nothing much worse than watching your child in fear and not being able to get to him.

I'm pretty good at falling and getting up at some things - others I find it incredibly difficult. Confidence has always been an issue. But I'm stubborn & that's gotta be good - right?? :)

Kristy said...

That must have been a horrible feeling... for you and your son both...

I'm a master at falling... not so good at getting back up again. Not yet anyway.

Little Ms J said...

I'm a champion faller. I'm also a champion curser, a champion bruiser and a champion "GET THE EFF OUT OF MY WAY" once I've brushed off my ego. Sometimes the scar tissue is the only way...

Solvang Sherrie said...

I've fallen plenty of times. Ouch. Even once from the roof when I was trying to fly. Yep, I'm good at falling. But it doesn't get me down. Because at some point, I'm gonna soar!

Sharon Mayhew said...

First of all, great post! Second, I'm a really good loser...I'd rather see other people win than beat them. Third, I consider every rejection one step closer to finding the right home for me or my work...That being said, I'm getting rather tired of personal/handwritten rejections...I need a "yes" for a change.

Lori W. said...

Falling sucks. I took enough drama classes to be able to fake the gracious dusting off of self/ego, but I'm so grateful for my critique group. They know the truth; they help pick me up. Otherwise, I'm sure I'd quit (not writing, but writing for publication). Thanks for this encouraging post!

SharonKendrew said...

First of all, bravo to Jack for not biting the woman on the way down, which is what my scaredy-cat 3 yr old would've done.

And second - I bury my head under my blankets, cuddle up with my weight in popcorn and a bad book until I've read enough to talk myself into writing something better than the crap I just wasted a whole day reading.

SB said...

GREAT post! GREAT GREAT! I do feel I know how to fall. but i think it's a learned skill. don't tell him, but my hubby doesn't know how to fall. he's never been allowed to..by his family and now, by extension, by me. (whoops - what can i say?) - likely why he picked me! but i am a proud faller and picker upper...onward and upward i say!
SB