Off Balance and the Fear of Falling

Fear of FallingI cannot even begin to tell you how long I’ve been stumbling around the house or outside, falling down or tripping. I’ve fallen in the shower, on the stairs, in the kitchen, in the toilet, on the street, etc. You name a place and I think I’ve tripped or fallen in a similar place.

For years I’ve heard about Nordic walking and Nordic Walking sticks. I always associated them with these “energetic golden aged baby boomer types” who just could not run anymore. 4 years ago I had to stop running because it hurt too much and my spleen began to grow larger and larger. As it grew so did the pain. So I also stopped running but I did not feel old. And I still refused to use those damn sticks.

Maybe last month was a bit of a turning point for me. My spouse bought those sticks at least a month earlier and I remained stoic and appalled. I resigned not to have a pair of matching sticks and appalled that my life partner was giving in, throwing in the towel, admitting defeat and telling the world without shame that we were getting older. I secretly tried the Nordic sticks and knew immediately that there was something behind it. I was not sure what it was and I knew curiosity to be a form of betrayal. The only option was for this new sport interest of my partner to fizzle out and fad away.

I let them stand next to the front door like sentinels of doom and dust. Beacons that stand to greet youth with the promised wisdom of age. I am patient and I can out last these sticks.

On the other hand, we began planning walking excursions int he surrounding countryside. So far we’ve gone as far as Germany to enjoy a jaunty stroll with the dog and in the open air. We’re even willing to venture out in  less than sunny weather as long as we can get out. Me staggering, misjudging the ground beneath my feet and tripping along side my spouse, who walked at a solid steady pace, enjoying the scenery and smiling. I noticed that I looked much more frequently toward the ground so as not to twist an ankle, knee or something worse. I noticed that I did not seem to trust my own body as much anymore. My perception and judgment were questionable.

Something wasn’t right. I could walk faster than my spouse but I was neither as comfortable nor as sure-footed. After hours of walking I was tense and a bit stressed from being aware of the ground beneath me that I had not truly enjoyed the world around me. Hmmm. Such a frustration. My ego was winning and I tortuously cheered it on by not being willing to try new things. Suddenly I had a new-found interest.

I saw a lovely pair of sticks in Germany that had my name on them. I did not get right away. There was a discount procedure in place and I needed a new backpack first. We bought the backpack and received points toward purchasing the sticks. With enough points the sticks would be discounted 50%. I had to wait about a month before returning to Germany to buy my sticks. I could almost burst out of my skin from anticipation. I had time to reflect on the situation…

I spent so much effort trying to to remain spiritually in balance that I completely ignored the fact that I remained unsteady physically. Not to mention that my ego did not think that there was beauty in age and wisdom. My spirit had the right idea. I had to give up my idea of control in order to get control of the situation.

WOW! An  A-HA moment!

OK. Now what? Well last Saturday we went to purchase the sticks. On Sunday we went for a brisk stroll through the Dutch countryside. Lots of water, farmland and bridges. I did not stumble, stagger or fear falling and breaking a bone. As a matter of fact I was steadied by my sticks. They even have shock absorbers. Whenever I took step on an uneven patch of ground one of the sticks was there to support me. I was so excited. I knew why all of the older people were always smiling when I saw them strolling through the street with their sticks. They knew that the chance to extend their independence rested in a thin beautiful piece of aluminum. Something so simple that can be held in the hand. Independence was truly within reach and my hand wrapped around it gleefully.

I no longer have to walk in fear of falling down. I am no longer off balance. The joy…THE JOY!!

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