That’s about it. That’s about all I’m thinking when I’m about to hit my face. Everything else I’m doing is completely reactionary and without thought. Turning my head, reaching my arms out with forearms prepared to take the blunt of impact, and preparing to roll.
I wrote most of this post yesterday. However, this morning on my way to church I was pedaling up a hill to get to the bus. Suddenly I felt a pop, then all of my body weight shifted forwards as the back wheel lifted off the ground. Before I knew it, I was headed over the bars directly towards the concrete. I have an idea of how I avoided any real injury, but it took no thought—just pure reaction.
BMX has helped me introduce my face to substrates more than any other physical activity.
There was that one time we sent up a table downstairs so we could grind down the top of it. I clipped my back peg we pulling off and ended up scraping my face and arms up real good. Then there was that time when I nose-cased (here’s an example of that) a dirt jump and my face hit a piece of wood we were using to cover the soft dirt. And that time I missed getting my front peg up on a 22-stair handrail (something like the first clip here) and flew over the rail and into gravel face first.
In comparison to many of my friends, I’ve ridden away with very few and far less serious injuries, although I’ve had two ACL surgeries. The difference between my friends and I: they were willing to pay the price more that I was. Sure, some of my friends had way more talent than I, but they also believed in the pursuit of getting better at BMX. They took bigger risks, achieved greater levels of riding, and experienced more severe injuries (I should point out that each of these is not dependent on the other).
I think about this and how it applies to everyday life. The risks I take in everyday life don’t come with the harsh consequences of surgery, facial scares (I can’t grow hair in two spots on my jaw line), and physical pain. But they do come with sometimes more difficult consequences. Consequences that casts, splints, and band-aids don’t fix.
I’ve fallen on my face with regards to money, my profession, and my personal relationships. Each time I found myself figuratively sliding my face on the concrete, there’s been little time to react in the moment. You don’t just get to stop a girl for telling you she thinks “you’re a great guy and all but…”. You don’t get to tell the stock market to quickly put back the thousands of dollars it removed from your portfolio (the fat-finger-debacle was my worst day ever financially). You can’t just tell a client to renew their short-term project–the one that you were counting on for rent. These are situations you react as best as possible to lessen the damage to your face as you can.
In these situations my mind jumps to the advice of my high school football coach. He’d yell until his voice was gone, lecturing the team on the importance of composure. “Keep your composure,” he’d say. “This is going to be a heck of a challenge, but keep your composure.”
Let’s face it, once you’ve slammed hard, it no longer matters that you’ve fallen. At that point it’s time for recovery. This is the road I still don’t know how to navigate. In a brief moment of clarity and the reason for trying to write this post, I tweeted this:
When I hit my face, whether figuratively or physically, it is the result of pursuing something I believe in. Time well spent is allocated to preparing and pursuing what I believe in. But in the moments after I’ve full-on scorpion-grinded (see here for an example), that’s when the real struggle begins.
Recovery is hard because it often involves work on the heart. There’s thinking, reflecting, praying, and even questioning. You’ve probably heard yourself ask “Why did this have to happen to me? Why me?” In some of those cases, you might hit your face because you took a risk for something you were unprepared for. In other cases, there was nothing that could have prepared you for what you were about to take on.
I wish there was an actual conclusion to this post, but there’s not. I have no idea how to conclude this. Writing stuff like this is my own way of forcing myself (while kicking and screaming) to confront my own moments of falling short. I guess it doesn’t matter so much what I’m thinking when about to hit my face.
Here’s where you say “cool story, bro.”
If you came to see crashes and not some much to read my rant, you’re in luck. I’ve got two clips in this video. If you can point them out (and you don’t ride BMX), I’ll buy you coffee. Limit to only one winner.
Out of Hand intro from Chris Bird on Vimeo.