On falling and getting up

I stayed up last night watching videos on YouTube of people flying hang gliders. I envied them as they soared through the air like birds. They seemed so happy and relaxed. Me? I probably would be a little apprehensive about hang gliding off a 1,000-foot cliff. But then I found videos of people learning how to hang glide, and I was impressed to see that they are taught to hang glide off small hills, then larger hills, then cliffs. No one just grabs a hang glider and jumps off a precipice and expect to be okay at the end. Well, maybe they expect to be okay, but they probably won’t be okay.

Then I had a dream. It was an odd dream. In it, I was watching a comedy movie and criticizing it with my wife. We joked about how horrible the movie was and how the plot was full of holes. The movie was more of a slapstick fest than a thriller, to say the least. Suddenly, the director of the movie appeared on the screen. He was the hound director of a movie I had watched a few days ago. He talked about how bad his movie was, but then he got into the subplots and the meaning behind what we were seeing.

“You see people falling all the time because I wanted to show you how people are fallible. They all fall because they’re human, not because they’re stupid or slow-witted. The hero falls. The villain falls. The only difference is that the villain falls at the end and doesn’t get up. The hero keeps falling but always gets up.”

Then he turned to look at me through the television set. “You want to fly like Superman, but you keep backing off the cliff. So start with something lower, then move higher,” he said. “But know that you will fall. It’s up to you to get up or stay down.”

Other dreams came and went last night, but this one stuck because of the imagery and meaning in it. Isn’t it true that we all fall because we’re human? That’s how you know you’re human, because you make mistakes. Tell me of someone who was perfect, and I will show you a robot (and one not programmed by humans) or a deity. The rest of us have to deal with scraped knees, bruised egos, and shattered dreams.

The difference between all of us when it comes to falling is how we get up… And whether or not we do.

I'm a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Public Health program at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. All opinions posted here are my own, of course, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my school, employers, friends, family, etc. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen