I am afraid to fall. With my hands and elbows distorted by reumatoid arthritis I cannot break a fall. My affected knees and feet are fragile. Of all people, I had to fall down the stairs. All the way from top to bottom. I don’t remember why or how I came to fall. Was I a bit nauseous (I’d just been ill)? Or did I just misstep or slip? I only remember the moment I stood at the top of the stairs, after turning on the washing machine. The next moment I was gliding down the stairs on my back, head first, passing a few envelopes with letters laying halfway, waiting there to be put in my paper archive upstairs. “Here I go” I thought in a flash. One second later I lay flat on my back on the floor.
I felt a big bump growing fast on my forehead and for a few minutes I just breathed. Then I slowly started to move all my limbs. My feet didn’t hurt, I could bend my knees. A miracle: everything seemed to be working! I spent the next few days in my bed, with considerable bruises allover and dizzy because of a concussion. My doctor called my fall a “high energy trauma’ (an accident accompanied by a big jolt of energy). He advised me to really, really take it slow for a while. I did need to, I was completely empty. My first few days I spent watching tv and sleeping. Reading wasn’t possible that early on. After a week I went downstairs and got out my art supplies. I drew a circle on paper. I badly needed some distraction and relaxation, which I usually get from drawing. But nothing happened. I just stared at the circle for ten minutes. And decided that was it for the day, I just couldn’t expect any more. Apparently I didn’t have energy to spare, I needed every spark for healing. I put my pencils and the page with that empty circle away, went to bed and fell asleep listening to some relaxing music.
Two weeks later I carefully and slowly started to pick up normal life. And again I got my drawing utensils out of the cupboard and found that empty circle. Now there was enough energy in my body and mind to do something with it. The resulting drawing had a lot to do with how I felt after my fall. There were no lasting injuries. I had been very lucky indeed.
On the other hand: with one blow I had been set back to basics. My whole life had been put on hold. I was black and blue in several places and had a spinning head that was slowly getting to normal. I had, though not by choice, all the time in the world to think about my life. I realized very well I was lucky. Not only because of how basically unscathed I got out of this fall, but also just lucky to have what I have. I realized how important it is to sometimes just stop and feel happy. Those weeks of recovery were also weeks I let that feeling of happiness flow into me. Every now and then I just called out to my husband and sons “I love you all!” A bit melodramatic I admit, and after a few of these exclamations they started to give me pitying looks. But I told them just to let me be, ignore me. And they did.
Like anyone I have my concerns. Ailing parents, my own impairing health and growing diabilities. And of course all the daily worries everybody has to deal with. But I also have a lot of loving and caring people around me and I feel lighthearted enough to be able to put something on paper I feel happy with. Looking at my drawing I see branches that form a structure. They do carry nasty thorns but also are full of playful bubbles or balls or spheres. The suns keeps shining through the branches. But it’s a fragile structure. One push and it will all be out of balance. Maybe then the spheres will pop or fall down. But maybe the branches will hold them all together. And maybe, after such a push, the spheres will be able to cling even more securely to those branches. Aware of their tricky position but well balanced. Just like me.
(written March 2012, translated April 2019)