I fell. On December 4th, 2014 I dropped fourteen and a half feet through a suspended walkway, hit a set of exposed wooden stairs and body-slammed onto the concrete floor in my basement. I’m grateful for the stairs.
I heard a snap as the wood splintered at my feet, the walkway shattered and then, like a synchronized swimmer dropping into the finale of her programme my arms extended high above my head and I dropped to the underneath.
“I knew this”, I thought, and it was the knowing that gave me calm. There was no fear and it was this calm that saved me from serious injury. I got off lucky I suppose, rode it down like a rag doll, fully conscious of what was happening. The veil is thinning, apparently I can see further than I can think.
I had six days notice that I would fall. It started with Gwen. “Can you imagine? she said, being in an earthquake and the thing you thought you could trust, the thing that you could rely on, the very Earth underneath you moving, shaking and opening. What would that feel like?”
“I know what that feels like, I said, it’s terrorizing. I’ve been in an earthquake and it’s the most horrifying uncertainty, everything you know falls away.” The conversation lingered a while.
And then there were the visions. Somewhere in the night and jumbled in the waking of the last five days I saw the concrete floor of my basement cracking, opening, and shattering itself into rubble. It came and went, disappeared and appeared, a constant in the liminal space between surety and undetermined. Visions are a funny thing, they live in the pleroma, that middle point of equilibrium where unconscious mind meets conscious thought. It’s more a whisper than a statement and as far as visions go, this one was insistent.
The blue velvet coat was on my mind and the blue velvet coat was in Mommy- dearest. Mommy-dearest is Gwen’s pet name for a secret chamber in this old wood and stone house I live in. There’s a vertical trap door that opens with a pulley-rope over the stairs that lead to the basement. The secret chamber has a horizontal metal bar and that’s where I hang my winter coats, space is at a premium here. The rope that opens the trap door is secured around a four inch spike on the side wall going down the stairs. When I want my winter coats I unwrap the rope from the spike and lower the door to a fitted resting spot on the stairwell. Once it’s secured I can walk up the plank-way, get whatever I want then close the whole thing up again until Spring when the coats go back into storage. This is Mommy-dearest. Gwen has a twisted sense of humour sometimes.
On the day before the fall Renee was here. I told her I had to go into Mommy-dearest to get the blue velvet coat. And there was the next clue. She laughed at the moniker so I took her down the hallway and opened the basement door to show her the pulley-rope that lowers the plank-way. “See? Mommy-dearest“. Later, when I told Renee I fell she said that when I showed her Mommy-dearest the day before that her immediate thought was ‘that doesn’t look safe’.
On the morning of the fall there was a trailer for a horror film that came over the social network. I can’t stand that kind of visual intrusion into my system but I was pulled. I watched all three minutes of it and near the end was a tiny three second clip of a woman inside a concrete chamber. The woman was standing as a tremor buckled the walls and the floor beneath her cracked and opened to gaping hole. She fell through in spite of desperately pawing at the floor to remain above ground. I was riveted to the scene and I watched that three second clip four times. I fell an hour and a half later.
At ten o’clock my working partner Alex showed up. Alex and I are the Woodhaven Maintenance Crew of two. We do all sorts of things together, we build gardens, chop wood, rake and sweep, whatever is needed to clean and maintain 30 acres of land. When he arrived we talked a while about a new project then I asked if he’d help me get my coats from the closet. I lowered the pulley-rope, walked up the plank-way, retrieved a couple of items and handed them to him. He was away in the dining room putting the coats on a chair when the wood cracked, and the air devoured me. The sound of the crack, the wood splintering away from the certainty that held my body safely somewhere on the Earth was my sensory clue of knowing. And it was that knowing, the confidence of certainty where curiosity embraced me.
The first point of impact was my left hip meeting the wooden staircase, the solid fir plank-way swung out and drove into my leg, then as I reeled away from the pain I dropped the last four and a half feet onto the concrete landing on my right hip as my head snapped back and hit the floor. That I would fall was a certainty, that whatever was beneath my feet would drop away was a certainty, it was the when and the where that was discovered in the moment.
There are lessons here. Quite a few lesson actually. In the aftermath I ask myself, “Knowing what I know now with the warnings and all, should I have changed my course of action potentially preventing the fall?” No. And why not? Well, here’s the deal, I knew I would fall at some point and I knew it would involve the ground beneath me opening or breaking away. I knew there would be a concrete floor involved and I knew somewhere in the play of it all I would be unable to grasp at anything or rescue myself. What I also knew was that none of these ‘warnings’ caused any fear or concern. The visions were a telling, the conversations were a clue and that I waited for my workmate Alex to arrive before I pulled down the Mommy-dearest walkway assured me that all was in some kind of sequence. It’s the sequence that is the real question.
Our thoughts happen in a split second and my split second thought was, “I knew this” not, “I knew this and I should have listened to the signs therefore I am stupid for not listening.” Nope, not that at all. “I knew this” was comforting and reassuring. “I knew this” was also a split second twist in that fragment of time where what was the past and what could be the future got tangled in the rag doll of my body as it slammed and smashed its way downward. I wouldn’t change it for anything because what I got to see was that I knew and the knowing is what gave me calm. It was likely the thing that prevented me from breaking my femur which was, when I landed, the thing that finally made my heart race. The stairs have no backing and I could have easily caught a foot in the stairs and snapped my femur, people die from having a broken femur. I got mashed up, bruised and battered, but a broken femur, nope. What the bruises and general body shake-up did was it offered me the opportunity to sink into doing very little physical activity for the last 4 weeks and that has loaned itself to some ponder time. The most interesting thought in these hours by the fire is this idea: Because the calm and the knowing were so very secured in my system, what is the possibility that the fall had already happened and the visions and conversations were the clue that identified the action that had already occurred? Is it possible that there is a going backward in time and intuition is actually a memory of the future? Does the debris of intuition with corresponding action signal the thing that remains in our cellular memory? These are my current questions. Backward? Maybe.