Learning to Fall
It turns out that the key to learning how to walk is learning how to fall.
Infants who are learning to walk don’t move forward in one continuous straight line.They take a step, lose their balance and fall.They speed forward, stop short, fall backward. They start forward, swerve, miss a step, fall down.
As adults, we try to avoid falling. In school, we learn to try to get the “right” answer and to avoid making “mistakes.”At work, in relationships, we try to do what we intend, or what others intend for us. If we don’t succeed, we feel like a “failure.” When we lose our balance we to try to get up quickly so that no one notices. As adults, don’t give ourselves much margin for error. Which means we don’t give leave much room for learning. Or innovation.
Perhaps it is time for us all to learn how to fall and to practice falling more frequently.
On a physical level, learning to fall can help avoid serious injuries. One third of all emergency room visits are due to falls. Martial artists, dancers, paratroopers all learn techniques for falling so that they don’t hurt themselves. The key to learning how to fall is not to resist falling, but to learn how to go with the fall and direct it
On an emotional level, learning to fall may mean accepting that you won’t always be able to do what you intend, and that’s not always a bad thing: Stepping sideways, taking detours and sitting it out for a time are expected, not a diversion but part of the whole. Knowing this, you are less hard on yourself and more kind to others.
Creatively, learning to fall means not holding back for fear of saying or doing what others may not like. You are free to do more, try more, learn more from feedback. When you are not afraid of getting it wrong, you free yourself to be original, to be bold. When you aren’t afraid of falling, — doing something that may not turn out as you expect, you are free to do what you or no one expects.
When is the last time you fell? If you could fall again, how would you do it differently?