08 February 2014

the icy danger

For just a split second today, she thought she was going to fall. A slip of the foot on a sliver of ice: the winter is full of dangers.

No, more than that: the world is full of dangers.

In that moment when she almost fell and she caught herself thinking of the world's dangers, she did a very meta thing and thought about her thoughts. Why did her brain jump so quickly to the World's Dangers? In just one flash of a second, she went from admiring the flurries—and oddly enough, thinking about McFlurries from McDonald's, a place she never goes {or will never admit to going}—to wars, gang violence, starvation, disease, drive-by shootings, car accidents, and heart attacks.

Why didn't she think of ice skating, which was what she was essentially doing? Sans ice skates, of course, but the concept of gliding on the ice was there. The night before, she'd watched the opening ceremony for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games while eating popcorn for dinner, and beyond making her want to re-read Anna Karenina, it had made her want to ice skate again.

So here she was on a walk doing just that, skating on the ice, but it didn't feel like an adventure. It felt dangerously close to walking along the edge of the Grand Canyon, head up, looking straight ahead, and just sure that the next stop would send you careening. Exhilarating, yes, but precarious and fraught {what a word with an old English ring to it!} with danger.

To slide on the ice is to be out of control.

To stop yourself from falling is to know how to control that out-of-control feeling.

Is there a life lesson in here? She thought this as her arms flew out to her sides, re-balancing her body and steadying her once again.

Oh, it's probably something along the lines of how you never know when you're going to fall.

Or maybe it's how you can't always stop yourself from falling, and that even if you do fall, it's all right. You will be all right.

She knows this because she has fallen before, which is probably why she jumped so quickly to thoughts of danger when really, all that was happening was a little sliding.

For someone like her—someone used to being surefooted and steady—any reminder of unsteadiness feels like a fast slide {a luge race, continuing the Olympic theme} into danger.

She's aware as she keeps walking that she's thinking both metaphorically and literally: she is surefooted and rarely slips, but she's also steadfast and methodical and rarely out of control.

So much self-analysis! And on a morning walk through the snow—the kind of light, airy snow that skiers would call powder but that she calls kickable snow.

With a glance behind at the icy patch that almost made her fall, she moves ahead, scattering the snow with a few kicks—now always checking for that next icy danger.

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