Thomas Wayne: And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.
…actually, so we can blog about it!
Every hero has to confront their ‘shadow’. Often in old stories and even new ones it’s in the form of a dark figure, like Darth Vader, Ra’s al Ghul, or the Joker. In Batman Begins, the young Bruce Wayne has a traumatic experience when he falls down a well and is faced with a swarm of frightened bats, after which his Dad offers the advice above. During his ‘training’ period with Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Shadows (sounds like a Mongolian heavy metal band now I come to think of it), he is forced to confront this fear to the point that when he returns to Gotham he can actually create his secret space in a cave full of bats below his mansion. What was once a source of his fear becomes a symbol of his power which he uses to “turn fear against those who prey on the fearful.” Basically, coming to terms with our fear is an essential step in our transformation and the awakening of our heroic self.
Yesterday was a beautiful day for riding, perfect blue skies and a gentle breeze, so I headed out to Kinglake. This would also be a new PB for me, doing over 200km of hills for the week and something in the order of 4,000 vertical metres, not that I’m counting. As I’ve been clocking up the miles, in the back of my mind there has been a niggle: I’ve been dreading a fall. I’ve had a couple of mechanical failures recently, one at speed, but I haven’t come off for at least 15 years, maybe longer. But it’s like shark attacks which have increased in proportion to the increase in surfers and water sports. I haven’t had many crashes because I haven’t been riding that much until the last year or so.
This streak ended yesterday. I was putting in an uphill attack and my chain came off sending me over the front. Actually it was mostly a blur except for hearing myself yell out as I kissed the bitumen and gravel.
I was able to get up instantly to get myself off the road, so that was a good start. All seemed good. Bike was ok and I had only tapped my head. Even my glasses were unscathed. Except on closer inspection my helmet was broken up on the inside. So much for a light tap!
A lot of the route I take is just in open country with very few houses, so I was very fortunate to land near a house that was close to the road, and one very close to my wife’s old riding teacher. The women and her kids couldn’t be more helpful. They helped me dress my wounds and made me comfortable while I waited for Medivac (aka Ophelia) to arrive. All in all, it could have been a lot worse in so many ways.
The interesting thing was that before the ride I had been feeling quite down but after the tumble I was actually feeling better – more confident, more free. My body felt beaten up (and even more so this morning) but I felt really good, and this wasn’t just the adrenalin! In fact I felt like I’d been given exactly what I needed – the chance to come face to face with my fear. I’d fallen but I was ok. Even better than that, I’d learned that there is nothing to be afraid of.
Where I am in my life this is exactly what I needed to be reminded of. Falls are inevitable in life. I don’t just mean in the physical sense. Starting out on a couple of major new endeavors at the moment, including looking for new work, I’ve been afraid of whether of all kinds of things – whether I would be rejected or humiliated, whether I’d fail.
All too often these fears get so big they stop me even starting a new enterprise. I’ll stop myself from sharing my thoughts or contributing in other ways that are bound to bring me joy and be of serious benefit to others. So this fall has been ideal to challenge that fear and I’m now better equipped to move forward and to take a few more rejections, more falls, in the mix. I’m more free now than I was this time yesterday to focus on my vision and what inspires me, rather than what scares me.
So remember, it’s ok to fall. It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok when things don’t turn out the way you want them to. Just get up and and keep going. Things change, mishaps occur, we learn, and what doesn’t kill us just makes us stronger.
Have you had a similar experience? Maybe you’d like to share it with me below.
Now where’s the Batmobile!