"The Gifts of the Fall" that I am referring to are not the gifts of the autumn. I am referring to the fact that I fell last week.
I love to interpret events in my life in terms of metaphor, but when I fell last week it never occurred to me to look for any meaning in this beyond my gratitude for not being hurt, the reminder to be continuously careful, and the obvious improvement in the strength of my body.
And so I was startled when a friend of mine made several suggestions regarding the metaphorical meaning of my falling. First, she reminded me that the Universe sometimes has a dramatic way of getting our attention. Yep -- got my attention. Second, she suggested that perhaps I needed more Earth connection. I reflected on this and admitted to myself that I had been avoiding lying down on the ground because of the sensitivity of my spine to hard surfaces. During the fall, I found myself flung down hard on my back without getting hurt. And after the fall, I was able to dream about camping or even backpacking in the future! Or sunbathing at the beach. Or just relaxing on the ground. Or spending an entire day (not just a few hours) gardening.
Third, my friend suggested that perhaps my back bone could use some strength from the bones of the Earth (aka 'rocks') in healing. I found this idea intriguing.
And as the week went by, I noticed some gifts from the fall beyond these metaphors and beyond the gratitude for not being hurt and the continued care with which I navigate my days. One morning this week, I decided it was time to take out my yoga mat, and I was able for the first time in 18 months to lie on my back and do some gentle yoga poses. I hadn't attempted the lying down poses before I fell because my back had been too sensitive. Last autumn, I was unable to lie on my back on the floor at all. Last winter, it was a painful exercise just to spend 5 minutes lying on my back with my knees up. My spine was too sensitive when the compression fractures were more recent, when the lumbar curve was gone from my spine, and when I had lost much of the strength in my back. Surprise -- it's back. My back is back!
So I lay on my back doing yoga poses I hadn't been able to do for over a year, and I started to cry. Tears of joy, tears of grief -- both from the realization of what it took to get here, and from the joy of being here now. I was too full of emotion not to cry, so the tears ran from my eyes. On and on. But since I was lying on my back, the tears ran down my cheeks into my ears, and then I started to laugh as my ears filled with tears.
My back is back, and I have tears in my ears. These are the gifts of the fall!! And more seriously, and very wonderfully, I now know that my back is truly stronger than I imagined. I could lose my balance and slam my back hard on the ground and not break a bone. Yes, my spine tires easily and I need to lie down frequently during the day, and yes I still need pain medication, and yes there are things I still hesitate to do because of the jolting to my spine (like ride a bicycle). But I never doubted that my back would be back, and now I can say that it is. My back is back, and I have tears in my ears. These are the gifts of the fall!!