Day 18, Saturday: Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.

I was a clumsy kid.

This wasn’t the ‘I’m becoming a teenager so my hormones are messing up my ability to move’ kind of clumsy, I was naturally lacking in the spacial awareness department. I still am, mind you, but nowhere near how bad I could be at the tender ages of 8 and 9.

The worst was falling. Everyone fell in the playground as a kid, but with my limited knowledge of standing upright I might as well have physically hurled myself at the ground. I did, however, possess the innate ability to fall in the most graceful manner possible. Despite my flaw, it seems my subconscious would try to make up for it by pretending to be on an episode of Strictly Come Dancing. At least until I hit the ground, that is.

It varied as well. Sometimes I would do a foot long rugby slide in the dirt after tripping, other times I’d just pirouette myself into the dust, ready to receive 10 points from the judges.

But there were some cases where I felt… proud to fall, I guess. It sounds strange, I know, but for someone who fell constantly there were moments when I felt great after a particular fall.

I suppose it would be easier to explain with example. In my 4th tear of primary school in Waterford, like many days, I stumbled over my own feet and saw the hard tarmacadam rushing towards me to kiss my face. This whole cycle of events happened in about maybe 3 seconds.

It seemed that whoever I had been in a previous life had been a bloody Russian gymnist. Somehow my brain was able to get me to tuck in my legs and get me to roll head over heels; a perfect roll that, to it’s credit, would have gotten a standing ovation at the Olympic Games.

I might be stretching the truth there. Just a small bit.

It was a painful roll, that was certain, but the elation of my 10 year old mind, the ecstasy of recovering from certain death was enourmous. I was king of the world.

And then, in the middle of that amazing, life-saving roll, I did the unthinkable. Something no human possible could achieve, no matter how clumsy.

I tripped again.

In those few milliseconds, in my 10 year old head, any hopes for a career as an Olympic gymnast or Prima Ballerina shattered into fragments. Melancholy over the painful realisation that I would fall in the middle of falling was heavy on my shoulders, and it was all I could do to not wail in despair and wait for the inevitable.

The inevitable never happened. What happened instead may have contributed to the astonishingly large ego I currently possess. As the roll ended, instead of falling flat on my face, I had the good fortune of standing up at the best moment possible. I jumped and landed perfectly on my two feet.

At this point, a teacher had seen me fall and roll, as had many other pupils. To a myriad of ‘Are you alright?’ I could do nothing but stretch out my arms and celebrate my perfect score from the judges.

I might have made this all seem a little more exciting, but this is how my young self took this moment. For a long time before and for a time after this moment, I was the most clumsy child known to man. I like to think that the younger me chose to cross out that shortcoming after this. Maybe I could finally start feeling a little proud to fall.

-Fiachra



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