Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I had lunch after I took the photo - a very sweet place for dining outdoors - and then walked down the rocky peak (it really is a very simple and easy climb, but is rocky for about a 400 foot stretch). Somehow my foot got wedged between some cracks on my way down. I pulled and then lost my balance as my foot got free, flying forward. There was a four foot high boulder a few feet ahead of me and my mind was doing a quick physics calculation that told me in about a half a second my face was going to be smashed against the boulder. I was thinking blood, a broken nose, a cracked tooth or two as my glasses flew off my face. A lot can go through your mind in half a second.
But none of that happened. Somehow all my momentum was stopped in mid-flight. I landed four inches short of the boulder in a one foot square of course sand. I ended up with a small cut on my hand, a scrape on my right biceps, a tiny cut and bruise in one eye socket, and a bruised back. That was it. My camera had a couple of light scratches on the LCD viewfinder and when I retrieved my glasses, I found one scratch on the left lens. I can live with both.
I was lucky, very lucky. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine actually died taking a similar fall in a national park. My mother, if she had been with me, would have definitely called my lack of serious injury a miracle. And the fact is that I swear I felt a force stopping my momentum in mid-flight, keeping me from hitting that boulder.
But really I think what happened is that - just like when I tried to hit some fastballs in a batting cage a couple of years ago and mostly whiffed - the physics calculation my mind made over that split second was off. Like in the batting cage a couple of years ago, my mind assumed my body was still young. It isn't. My lift off the ground wasn't what it might have been thirty years ago had I tried to yank my leg free and lost balance. I fell right where I should have given my lack of...oomph in middle age. There are some advantages to getting older. Then again, in my youth I probably wouldn't have lost my balance.
I had two very lucky things happen to me in the space of ten minutes. Alternatively, two small miracles happened, take your pick. Either way I have both a nice photo and a body still in one piece. Of course my back is killing me. It'll probably hurt for another six weeks. But I'll gladly take that pain over what might have happened.