Decades of experience have proven that a blessing can, conversely, work as a curse.
Take the old Irish benediction ‘May the road rise up to meet you.’
Think about it. One is walking, in a carefree, guileless manner along a road/path/sidewalk/carpeted hallway, and it rears up to meet one in the form of a bump/stone/protuberance/wrinkle.
What happens then? Anything from a face plant to a gyrating series of stumbles, bobs, weaves and windmilling arms. It’s never pretty. If you ever see me do any of the above—please be kind and pretend you didn’t. Don’t offer me a hand up or ask if I am all right.
Because pride hurts worse than the fall.
What is worse than the physical pain of bruised shins, bloodied knees or chipped teeth?
They occur, with irritating regularity, on the twisting, booby-trapped, buckling road of daily life. We are tripped up by bumps of:
-acting out of ignorance
-making faulty judgements based on incomplete facts
-speaking loudly and publicly and foolishly using those faulty judgments
-at a baby shower, during a game, announcing ‘Myrtle’ as a name to never name a baby, forgetting the hostess’s name is Myrtle.*
Unless you are a hermit, perfect, or have the gift of flight, you can no doubt remember one or two figurative stumbles of your own.
When we fall—spraining hubris, skinning egos, and banging up pride, we hope no one noticed.
Just in case though, we take ridiculous measures to maintain some semblance of dignity. Instead of rising to our feet, smiling ruefully and taking note of what precipitated the fall so we don’t repeat it, we might:
-make excuses for our forgetfulness so we don’t appear at fault
-stubbornly cover slips of tongue or mangling of words so we don’t appear less than clever
-huffily defend ignorant behavior so we don’t have to appear humble
-bluster through wrong assumptions so we don’t appear ignorant
-blather on with foolish pronouncements so we don’t appear…foolish
-grumble past our social blunders as if society where at fault instead of ourselves
-refuse to apologize profusely for an unintentional personal insult because we might appear vulnerable—i.e.—mortal
A fall is embarrassing and it can hurt. But it happens, and it isn’t irremediable.
Unless we pretend we meant to fall.
Unless we sacrifice others to save face.
Unless we blame the road instead of our own inattention.
Unless we never look at what caused the fall to avoid it in the future.
The stumble after the fall is worse than the accident itself.
It compounds the topple, hurts the onlookers, and ensures we’ll continue, in spite of bobbing and weaving and windmilling, to fall flat on our faces.
Let’s stop deluding ourselves. Clumsy, prideful, defensive methods to make certain no one noticed serve to only prolong the stumble.
Let’s turn that curse back to a blessing.
When the road rises to meet us, grin, and thank it for pointing out that the clumsiest of humans can rise after the fall, a better person.
*An all-too humbling real-life experience that occurred in the distant past of the Tuesday Prude.