Jennifer L. Grubbs
Jennifer L. Grubbs' "I on Life" column appears Tuesdays in the Craig Daily Press. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Falling on the ice sure can be a learning experience.
Last week, my parents came to Craig to visit me. On New Year's Eve, we went out to eat at a local restaurant and had a nice meal and good conversation.
However, what happened after the meal did not go so smoothly.
As I was walking on the sidewalk back to my car, I slipped on a patch of black ice. As I fell forward to the ground, I remember thinking that I was probably going to break something.
In those few seconds between slipping and hitting the ground, I worried about how it would affect the newspaper, how much it would cost to go to the emergency room, how I would take care of myself with a cast since I live alone, etc.
That's a lot of worry in a little amount of time.
Fortunately, I did not wind up with any broken bones.
Instead, I had a scraped and cut knee, and a pulled shoulder muscle and sore joint in my right thumb, from catching myself when I fell.
Oh, and I have a bruise on my knee that simply is a work of art. Initially, it was a purplish color, but it since has gone the way of the mood ring, adding yellows and greens to the purple.
But falling down also has forced me to watch where I step more closely, and it has made me think about what falling would have really meant.
If the fall would have caused me to miss work, then I have an incredible editorial team, who would have stepped up in my absence, just as they would if I were on vacation.
If I had needed to go to the emergency room, I couldn't have picked a better night, because my parents were still in town. However, if it had been any other night and I was leaving the newspaper office and slipped and fell, I would have had my cell phone and could have called any number of people to help me. Also, I have insurance through the newspaper that would have lessened the cost.
If I did have to live with a cast, I would figure out how to make it work. I've had a broken bone before, and I know the drill. If I were unable to do something, then I would have to ask for help.
Thinking about these issues after the fact made me calm down and realize that falling was not and would not be the end of the world, which is how I saw it in my initial panic.
It also made me think about how there are many types of falling that can cause that panic, and how there is always something to be learned from the fall.
A fall can mean a literal drop to the ground, or not finishing a work assignment in time, or saying something we shouldn't have, or any other little screw-up that keeps us awake at night.
Like most people, I have experienced all of the types of falls listed above. And many of them have meant sleepless nights.
In nearly all cases, though, I have found that the next minutes, hours and days offer chances to rectify the mess left by the fall - to heal, just like a bruise does.
What makes the falls worthwhile, though, are what changes we make because of them.
So, I will wait for my many-colored bruise to fade away, for my shoulder and thumb to stop hurting (albeit while taking some ibuprofen) and for my pride to heal, but I will watch the ground in front of me for a tell-tale shine of black ice and test my steps more carefully.
And I will remember the value of the lessons learned from this fall, as well as the other lessons I have gotten from previous falls of all types.