09/09/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Body Meanings, or, What I Learned When I Tumbled Down the Stairs

I've recently undergone a strange phenomenon. I've also heard of others experiencing these sorts of things, too. I've lived on the second floor of the same Victorian house for four years. The second floor means stairs, of course.

Twice in the past three months, and for the very first time ever, I've fallen down the stairs. The first time it was the back stairs and I fell a whole half flight on the way to go see a bodyworker of all things. That fall was pretty bad. I was sore for a while and I sacrificed the tender skin of my cheekbone for a week or so.

The second fall was yesterday, just two steps from the floor of the front foyer. I was wearing the same pair of shoes both times. The issue for me is not particularly what made me fall. The issue these falls have meaning?

I believe that all experiences in human life have meaning. All. No exceptions. I also know, having lived over half a century, that I don't always get to know the meaning in the moment of the experience, and that it can sometimes take years to reveal the inner significances of some experiences.

So what does falling mean? All by itself, falling is the act of forward acceleration, and it usually includes "down" as a direction. One falls down; one does not fall up. (Although there is a wonderful lyric in the soaring Stephen Schwartz love song between Elphaba and Fiyero in the second act of Wicked that goes "it's up that I fell.") We also, for what it's worth, fall in love; and, we fall down a rabbithole.

There is a body wizard who traffics in meaning named Dr. Michael Lincoln. He says falls are about "feelings of being betrayed, let down or undermined with associated experiences of loss of standing, humiliation, and hurt pride." I can certainly go for the loss of standing piece. Both times I ended up face down on the carpet definitely no longer standing. Dr. Lincoln also associates falls with "a family which was very concerned with appearances." Mine most definitely was.

So here's the point. I fell. Twice. What is the message in those falls?

For me, and it will be different for each being in each experience, it meant...slow down, no need to hurry, there's plenty of time, it's never too late, you're not late. In examining what I was doing yesterday just before I fell, I saw very clearly what had happened.

For the first time in a long time, I was working on my seventh novel which I've had a hard time getting back into this summer when the doorbell rang. Our buzzer is broken so in order to answer the door I have to walk downstairs. I was annoyed to be interrupted on a Saturday afternoon, so I stopped writing, went down the stairs impatiently, fell two steps from the bottom, and realized that it was just a delivery, that the person hadn't needed a signature, and there was no need for me to even have gone downstairs or been interrupted except that we hadn't had the buzzer fixed. In my impatience at the interruption, and at the broken buzzer, I fell.

Message: get the buzzer fixed, and slow down. If it's important, the person will wait.

May I invite you to look at the experiences of your own body for their own personal, revelatory meanings? I'm going back to writing my novel.

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