The first technique I learned, long ago, in martial arts was the proper way to fall. It took me many sessions of patient instruction by my instructor to finally master the process. One day, after a particularly awkward fall he said, “You too stiff, too afraid. Not be afraid. Not brace – that break your arm. Yield to fall. Minute your hand touch mat, go soft. Tuck and roll.”
The need to control life brings about a reflexive stiffness in the mind and body. A more natural response to the movement of life is to yield, yet still be able to direct one’s movement along the most effective path. I remember that this lesson once saved me broken bones, or worse. I was an avid long-distance runner for many decades and loved to run along the desert trails near my home in Phoenix, Arizona. On this particular day I was running, lost in a sort of meditation, along the trail through a mountain park when my foot caught and I pitched forward onto the rocky ground. I don’t remember being conscious of the sequence, but my arms softened the moment my hands touched the ground, my head tucked down, my body formed into a ball, I rolled and ended up back on my feet. I stood in wonder, “What the heck happened?” I looked back at where I fell – rocks and cactus! I caught my breath and did a body inventory. Nothing broken. No scratches. No bruises. Nothing!
Over the years since then I have stiffened in many ways, yet I remember that magical moment when everything softened and flowed. I am grateful that I have recovered some of that flowing energy as events in our life have been rolling and tumbling Nancy and I along. The terrible fires around us have sent tens of thousands of people into free-fall in so many horrible ways. After the Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise, California, we told our landlord that, if he found an evacuee family that would benefit from this house here in Mt. Shasta, we could be ready to move in a matter of weeks. He found just such a family – a woman with a wheel-chair bound daughter and another daughter in her twenties who has a six year old autistic son. This family barely managed to escape the fire and have been homeless, living in a hotel and caring for their multiple health needs. Now they have a new home in the mountains and we will be “on the road” come the 4th of December.
We will leave our furniture here with the house for the family and point our Subaru Outback south, eventually getting to Sierra Vista, Arizona, where my son and his family live. There we will live in a borrowed trailer while we enjoy Christmas with John, Michelle, and granddaughter Emma. We will look around Arizona for our own “home on wheels” and then be back “on the road” to new adventures, new freedoms, new joys, and new opportunities to be of service.
If we meet the tumbling nature of life with a stiff mind and body, we will break. If we soften and roll, we will flow on to amazing discoveries and experiences without fail. Tuck and roll, baby, tuck and roll.