A few days ago, I fell in a creek. It wasn’t a wide creek, but it was surprisingly deep, engorged by the spring rains we’ve been having lately. My runners slid right off that piece of metal some kind person had stretched from bank to bank, and I landed thigh-deep in a muddy pool of water, to the delight of my dog and concern of my husband.
“Are you okay?” Michael asked as I pulled myself out. “Let’s just head home.”
I looked down at my mud-streaked legs and dirty hands. My pride was floating somewhere back there in the murky water. My shoes squelched when I walked.
I started to laugh.
The thing is, if this had happened five years ago, I probably would have had a very different reaction. I used to be fairly renowned for avoiding opportunities to humiliate myself. I turned down social invitations as often as I accepted. I once sung off-key so I wouldn’t be chosen for choir (didn’t work). Four school carnivals in a row I, very coincidentally, “had my period”.
Even other people’s embarrassment causes me injury: I have a lot of trouble watching live productions or comedy shows in case someone forgets their lines or no one laughs at the funny bits.
A few years ago, a humiliating incident like this one would have me hiding in my room for days.
I’ve had a fair few “falling in a creek” moments in the past few weeks. More than my fair share, I’d argue. I won’t detail them here, for the protection of the innocent, but if you see me in person and you fancy a laugh, feel free to ask me about them. Suffice to say, my life is starting to feel like one long, extended FRIENDS episode, and after some consideration I’ve decided I’m okay with that.
Because here’s something I’ve learned about myself: I have the (newly acquired) ability to fall in a creek and come up laughing. I didn’t just go home that soggy day. The sun was out and I was happy, so I kept on roaming through the bush with my husband and puppy by my side. All those other times, too, I’ve had my small moment of mortification and then I’ve shrugged it off and laughed instead.
It’s a good thing to have: the ability to laugh at oneself.
So here’s to not taking ourselves too seriously. Here’s to falling in creeks and coming up laughing.