Going Over the Falls

July 10, 2018   Back when I was tumbling about on the corporate hamster wheel, going over the numbers was the endless, (and at times, mind-numbing), process of seeking improvement. In football, coaches love going over the playbook. They use this exercise to recode the instinctual mind. Developing a conditioned response becomes the goal.

I fall a lot and would like to fall less. Going over the falls is a means to analyze these many tumbles and develop a better response. It is an essential preventive exercise because: 1. Falling fucking hurts; 2. It is very hard to get up so it is inconvenient and embarrassing; 3. Eventually, I will take the “big one” and get seriously injured.

There are patterns within this unruly condition. The left leg is a club, loosely following a ponderous, ground-scraping arc. My CPU hums behind a fog of distraction. Cadence, the pattern of “left-right, left-right, left-right” that drives human propulsion has become “right-now what?”, “right-now what?”, “right-what the fuck is going on?”

And here is the problem. The Amygdala (primitive brain) is the first line of defense, selecting “flight or flee” when presented with danger. My Amygdala chooses “freeze”, an unwelcome middle ground. In other words, I’m going down. It is one of those Looney Tunes moments. My body becomes a plank. Eyes open wide, with “oh” on the left orb and “shit” on the right. A puff of dust rises on contact. This is what I learn when going over the falls.

There is a back story. My friend Greg taught me quite a bit about whitewater canoeing. “Beware the horizon” was a key lesson. A downstream horizon line could mean a waterfall. It is an unknown and it can wreck you, especially when a chart is not handy. This chartless exploration is my current life. Untold horizons lurk ahead. Some are just riffles, others might be the falls. But the sun still washes the rock and Mergansers will forever fish beneath a canopy of firs. I just cinch my vest and rise up to read the water.

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