I received a series of gifts, moments of deep gratitude, this weekend. Although the event that provided those moments I wouldn’t describe as a gift. You see, I was trimming a tree and fell off the ladder landing on a short wooden (and very sturdy) fence, then bounced to the ground, hitting my head on the tree trunk.
Minutes earlier when I climbed to the top of the ladder and began cutting branches and tossing them down to my husband, I thought, “Be careful Carol, there’s no safe place to fall.” As if falling from 10 feet is safe at any time! On one side of the ladder was the brick driveway, on the other, the fence and a narrow flower bed and the tree.
I was almost finished. I cut the last branch and was reaching for it when I lost my balance. It happened so quickly I didn’t have time to try to grab the tree to stabilize myself or to worry about which way I was falling.
My eyes had slammed shut when I began to fall so I had no idea where I was when I landed. All my awareness was focused on multiple areas of intense pain. Lance gently lifted my leg off the fence so it could join the rest of my body on the ground. I was grateful I was not alone. (Gratitude Gift #1).
After a few minutes of gasping for air, (I’ll forgo sharing all the physiological responses to pain), I decided I preferred to be lying on my bed instead of the ground. As Lance gently helped me shuffle/hobble into the house, I realized I hadn’t let loose with one swear word. (Gratitude Gift #2)
I had set an intention months ago to reduce my swearing. Hitting the fence, tree, and ground provided a powerful incentive to let fly with swear words in three languages! But I didn’t, even when the hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic cream, and bandages were applied.
With jeans and shoes off, face pressed into my pillow, I realized how quickly Lance had assembled everything he needed to patch me up. (Gratitude Gift #3) As part of our preparation for the trip to India, Bhutan, and Nepal, we had a well-stocked and organized medicine cabinet.
Lance helped me roll over and I gently tested the motility of my limbs. “Hey, I didn’t break anything! I must have strong bones.” (Gratitude Gift #4) I marveled at the massive bruises that were quickly forming on my legs, and arms.
My wrist appeared to be sprained; I had a lump on the back of my head and was feeling nauseous. (The doctor later verified a slight concussion and the sprain.) “I’m sorry I can’t take that walk this afternoon we had planned. But I now have an excuse to lay here and read.” (Gratitude Gift #5) I received one of those “my wife is crazy” looks.
Lance finally accepted that I was going to live and that I didn’t want to go to the emergency room. He returned to the driveway to remove the branches and put away the ladder, promising to check on me when he was finished.
As I was trying to get comfortable, tiny rainbows appeared all over the room. Sunlight had hit two crystals I have hanging above our bed. (Gratitude Gift #6) I spent the rest of the afternoon propped up in bed, reading (one of my most favorite activities), surrounded by rainbows.
Falling off a ladder isn’t something I would recommend to anyone. However, the experience gave me the opportunity to practice being grateful for small gifts in the midst of a painful and embarrassing experience. I remembered what the monk in Kathmandu said, “One can be happy in a moment.”
Days later I’m still hobbling around and have found more aches and bruises than I thought possible from one fall. Yet, I’m thankful for the all the gifts I received and the moments of gratitude I experienced because of my tumble to earth. I’m grateful I am healthy. And I am grateful that Lance was by my side again, as always.
What small gifts of gratitude will you experience today?