There I was, minding my own business, enjoying a typically pleasant walk with my large black dog (the subject of another of my blogs: www.dogtastic.net if you should feel curious) in the blistering sunshine that visits us for the vast majority of every summer. In order to make sure that the dog gets plenty of exercise on the walk I always engage him in a mind-bendingly boring (for me, not for him - he'll keep it up all day) game of fetch. Yes, I know, not exactly uber-creative of me, but he loves it and it means that he gets great exercise and has fun doing so.
Oops, it looks like I have digressed slightly.
Anyway....I walked and threw a stick for my hound - making sure he got a good soaking in the creek in the process - making my way towards a deep pool that I knew still existed despite the hot and dry weather. While the dog danced around me waiting for the next throw of his beloved stick, I made my way between two small trees, and caught my left foot on a root. Not a simple "I'll just dive into the ground right here" root, however; instead, it proved to be a "I'm going to pop out of the ground and then back into it again, just so I can trip up the first clumsy dufus who happens by" type of root. Think of a venus fly trap with its leaves wide open, and myself as the tiny-brained fly...
I had gathered some momentum, and despite my reflex efforts, it proved impossible to extricate my boot - and before you go off on some wierd tangent imagining me in thigh-length patent leather boots (I know you went there!), allow me to assauge your fears: they were ankle-high hiking boots - I began to topple forwards. Like a stricken colossus I fell, thankfully having the presence of mind to throw the stick away in front of me. Unfortunately, the stick, which was pointy at both ends, dug into the sand in front of me at exactly the perfect angle to allow me to impale my ample self upon it. As the point dug into my subcutaneous fat and the pressure on my paunch increased alarmingly, I managed to somewhat gymnastically roll to my left and off the stake (as I now considered it to be) onto the warm, dry sand.
I lay there, rather surprised at several things;
First: I had managed to throw the stick away in time (reflexes!).
Second: The stick had managed to dig in at a perfect angle to injure me (weird).
Third: I had come very close to a truly life-threatening injury in a remote location - it could have been very, very serious (serious).
Fourth: I'd managed to roll myself out of danger in a fraction of a second (athleticism).
Fifth: Despite many years since my last game of rugby, falling over still seemd quite natural (nothing broken, and not alarmed).
From a very mundane little occurrence, I have been reminded of a few things;
Perhaps most importantly, shit really does happen. I was uncomfortably close to testing my mortality - thankfully, 'close' is as far as it went.
Next, and more pleasingly, it seems that despite years of relative inactivity, the old machine still retains decent reflexes and some small athletic ability - I very much doubt that I'd have been able to react so quickly and effectively if I hadn't played rugby for twenty five years.
Finally (and happily), I didn't feel old - I didn't feel like falling was a shock, or a mild trauma (as I know many people experience). I'm only forty eight, and there is a lot of mileage left on this chassis - this little happening has helped remind me of that, and given me reason to start looking at my body once more as something that is still capable of improving as opposed to being ready for the scrap heap. I may even start exercising again!
So, despite sand in my watchstrap, sand in my pocket, sand inbetween my belt line and my skin, and sand in what little is left of my hair, I'm quietly very glad that I fell over and nearly turned myself into a kebab. The crucial word is 'nearly' - because if I were not still capable of taking the effective action within a fraction of a second, I'd possibly still be there, having my eyes pecked out by the crows.
As things stand, I am clearly NOT old.