Learning to Fall

I came across this excerpt recently and it moved me. It’s from Philip Simmon’s book called “Learning to Fall”, and it is written from his perspective as a 35 year old husband, father and teacher diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease which killed him a few years later.
It’s the first time I have ever heard of “The Fall” as anything but this evil horrible disobedience of humanity that has led to all things that are wrong with the world. But it also speaks to me on a very basic level.
I used to think that being a Christian gave me this magic out. If I just lived the “right” way, and did all the “right” things, then life would be peaceful and calm, perfect as god was perfect. Whenever life was hectic, stressful, confusing or imperfect, I thought it was my fault. I just wasn’t being close enough to God. As time has gone on since Itook a break from my perpetual hamster wheel of trying to be close enough to God to be fixed from all my imperfection, I am slowly becoming OK with the imperfect.
I am a woman with an imperfect body, imperfect parenting abilities, imperfect housekeeping abilities, and imperfect relational knowledge. But even if I managed to make all of that perfect, it would still be impossible for me to control everything else. Like death, or illness, or loss of relationship. No matter how good I got at “standing on the solid rock” life was still out of balance.
And now, I’m OK with that. I’m learning to be OK with being unsteady, putting one foot in front of the other and stopping here and there to take a breath and catch my balance. I don’t have to pretend to have it all together anymore. Sometimes I am happy, sometimes I am not. Sometimes I am confident, sometimes I am depressed. Sometimes I feel beautiful, sometimes I don’t. And that doesn’t make me a bad or deficient person. Life throws curve balls. Life changes. Life isn’t always exactly what we planned. But, life is good, even though it isn’t perfect. In fact, all kinds of things are beautiful and good without being perfect. And in learning to be OK with falling, I’ve learned to be unashamed of getting back up. I’ve learned to embrace fear.
an excerpt from
Learning to Fall
The Blessings of an Imperfect Life
Philip Simmons

“My earliest memory: I’m standing alone at the top of the stairs, looking down, scared. I call for my mother, but she doesn’t come. I grip the banister and look down: I have never done this on my own before. It’s the first conscious decision of my life. On some level I must know that by doing this I’m becoming something new: I am becoming an “I.” The memory ends here: my hand gripping the rail above my head, one foot launched into space.

Forty years later, encroaching baldness has made it easier to see the scars I gained from that adventure. Still, I don’t regret it. One has to start somewhere. Is not falling, as much as climbing, our birth right? In the Christian theology of the fall, we all suffer the fall from grace, the fall from our primordial connectedness with God. My little tumble down the stairs was my own expulsion from the Garden: ever after I have been falling forward and down into the scarred years of conscious life, falling into the knowledge of pain, grief, and loss.

We have all suffered, and will suffer, our own falls. The fall from youthful ideals, the waning of physical strength, the failure of a cherished hope, the loss of our near and dear, the fall into injury or sickness, and late or soon, the fall to our certain ends. We have no choice but to fall, and little say as to the time or the means.


Think again of falling as a figure of speech. We fall on our faces, we fall for a joke, we fall for someone, we fall in love. In each of these falls, what do we fall away from? We fall from ego, we fall from our carefully constructed identities, our reputations, our precious selves. We fall from ambition, we fall from grasping, we fall, at least temporarily, from reason. And what do we fall into? We fall into passion, into terror, into unreasoning joy. We fall into humility, into compassion, into emptiness, into oneness with forces larger than ourselves, into oneness with others whom we realize are likewise falling. We fall, at last, into the presence of the sacred, into godliness, into mystery, into our better, diviner natures.”


You are You (And that’s Beautiful)
Re-post: I am Not My Parents
What I Understand
Re-Post: Lies we tell ourselves about abuse
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16979912092987681396 Sandra

    A nice perspective. Falling from unconsciousness, through consciousness and self-consciousness, to beyond consciousness.

  • http://trans-spirit.com Chelsea Rose Wendt

    According to a certain gnostic-ish point of view, "The Fall" was actually out of a state of unconsciousness into consciousness, which seems to know itself as "separate." The robotic state of mere obedience was transcended, replaced with a "free will." "And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”" This knowledge is part of what the churches have suppressed with fire and blade for almost 2000 years, because it makes people so hard to control. Though it was almost destroyed, it still remains though nearly invisible, the secret current of knowledge that runs under the surface of our culture, yet always rises in some form as the invisible partner of official culture. It is the shape of the repressed that informs the design of what is approved. It does seem that this relationship may be shifting, at long last!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10254315970336710941 Catholic Mutt

    When rock climbing, we also discuss how a fall is a sign of progress. Sure, we overreached our current limits and fell on the rope, but that is how we learn to stretch our limits and get better so that we can do it the next time (or the time after that, or however long it takes).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15800962317847082233 Lady Heather Cassandra

    Wow! I am going to have to get that book. Accepting that I am imperfect is very hard for me to do. Right now I really needed that reminder – thanks for such a good and thought provoking post.

  • http://estheruth.livejournal.com/ estheruth

    Oh! I knew him. His family lived near mine in New Hampshire. He was lovely.

  • Rachel

    There is a very old story about someone who once asked a monk what monks do all day,. He said “we fall down, we get up again; we fall down, we get up again”. God loves us unconditionally and doesnt mind if we fall down 6.02x10exp23 times as long as we get back up again and keep trying.

  • Ajay

    the journey of the soul continues, drop which has separated from the ocean has to take many births and burn all desires to go back to the source the ocean…