“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” — Confucius
Just a few weeks ago, while practicing my handstand away from the wall, I fell. Hard. Like I landed in a crumpled heap and thought for sure I had broken myself, hard. It happened so quickly, that it’s still a blur in my mind: I kicked up, got some hangtime, and then almost immediately, I was on the ground. Two people were in the room at the time and I could tell by their “April! Are you OK?” that it looked as bad as it felt.
Thankfully, I wasn’t hurt. Well, my ego and pride were a bit bruised (especially since two people saw me do it), but physically, there didn’t seem to be anything wrong. Even though it would have been a good story (“How did I break my arm/leg/wrist/ankle? Kicking up into a handstand.”), I breathed a big sigh of relief that I hadn’t seriously inured myself, and after stretching a bit, kicked up again. And then again. I knew from past experience that if I didn’t do it right then and there, the memory of falling would haunt me, and the fear of falling again would hold me back the next time I tried it.
This is where handstands are like life. Life knocks us down. All the time. We’re going along great, getting better at whatever it is we’re doing, and then — Wham! — we’re in a crumpled heap. We fall, we fail, we lick our wounds, and then we either choose to move on and keep trying, or we let fear restrain us. I’m knocked down by “No’s” all the time in my sales job, but I keep on making calls, and in this instance, I was determined not to let a scary fall keep me from doing something that I genuinely love doing.
I did go back to the wall — to practice falling out of handstands with a little more grace and dignity (like in the video below) — and I let that fall/failure be a reminder that even though my handstand has progressed tremendously since my first attempt seven years ago, and I’m no longer afraid to kick up in the middle of the room, I am still a little shaky and still balancing and learning. I now know that mindlessly throwing myself into a handstand without my usual prep and careful step-by-step methods is truly a recipe for disaster. In life, and especially in handstands, cocky kick-ups will get you nowhere.