A few years ago I fell flat on my face, and there was nothing metaphorical about it. I was playing roller hockey on a basketball court with my nephews and brother. The surface of the court was painted, and the skating was smooth and fast. We were having a lot of fun, but I was playing recklessly hard against my brother. He's less than two years younger than I, so we've been competing a long time. To be honest, I don't think I've ever completely recovered from when he outgrew me in strength and size. Wits are another matter though, and I like to think we're still pretty evenly matched there.
Too bad my wits deserted me that day: setting the worst example possible, I was wearing neither helmet nor any other kind of protective gear. Ironically, I was standing still when it happened-- my skates slid backwards so fast on that slick court that I didn't even put my hands out to break my fall, and I landed on my face from a full standing height. Miraculously, nothing was broken, not even a tooth. I had an ugly abrasion that lasted a couple of weeks and a fat lip, but that was all.
I was lucky, but this past week has brought news of family of friends and friends of family who did not survive the choices they made, both impulsive and otherwise. Right now, my students are doing an assignment which asks them to look at the people and events, the accidents and incidents that have made them who they are. Every year, I write along with them, but I confess that I usually adapt what I've done in the past and share that. Maybe it's time to take a fresh look.