I don’t know how it happened. But I do know that things could have been far worse.
As I picked myself up off the concrete yesterday afternoon, blood spilling down my face, I also knew two other things: my dearly beloved bike had somehow betrayed me. And angels were close at hand.
Two sweet folk who frequent the place I work just happened to be walking along the same quiet road at the time of my accident. They immediately came over, gathered up the shattered glass of my morning oatmeal jar, and offered comfort and tissue.
I still had enough brains left to remember where I lived, which, again by grace, was close by. Better yet, my neighbour and friend turned out to be the best kind of Samaritan of all: a practically minded-professional nurse-happened to be at home-well stocked with first aid supplies-kind of gal. She dropped her homemade Italian dinner plans for imminent guests, and gently cleaned me up.
Other things that did not happen: my nose isn’t broken, my wounds are only the surface kind, and I don’t need stitches. I am unconcussed.
I might need a pep talk, though. I have an inordinate fondness for my bike – not only has it conveyed me to work in all kinds of weather and terrain, but its solid frame and steady rotations add a measure of sanity to my life. It reminds me, on blue, paralyzing days, that I am still moving forward through space and time, I am able to breathe deeply and move all of my muscles, and that the world is full of interesting smells and sights worth getting out of bed for. It wakes me up and lets me fly, it takes me to work and home again without complaint. I love my bike. And yesterday, it broke my heart, just a little. It certainly broke my confidence – after years of riding the roads, from my uphill university days to zippy downtown destinations, why did it fail me on a quiet road, five minutes from home, going nowhere fast?
I wish I knew. But all my theories (perhaps the front brake needs adjusting? Perhaps I wasn’t paying enough attention to the road?) are just theories, and the scariest part is that I can’t analyse what went wrong and fix it, do better next time, improve my technique, because I don’t know what happened.
My chin, however, deserves a whole new level of confidence. For most of my life, I have begrudged its presence, and always put it on my vain list of things to get redone if I ever was a millionaire or a movie star, or someone who believed in plastic surgery. It boasts a few prominent moles, and keeps itself firmly in the forefront. It loves hogging the camera. It’s a Pre-Raphaealite chin, if I’m being kind to it. It’s a prehistoric chin if I’m being mean.
But it came through for me yesterday – despite years of loathing from its owner, it never thought twice about coming to my protection. It rose up to meet the onrushing pavement with grace and dignity, and most importantly, strength. (The chin or mentum, is part of the mandible and is the strongest, largest bone on your face). The chin that I wished would perhaps, in my makeover dreams, melt away, didn’t budge. And in sacrificing itself, it saved my nose from breaking, and my face from being completely crumpled into the concrete.
For that, I am grateful. I’m going to wear it proudly from now on, remembering that like many things, our bodies are not merely built for beauty or admiration. They are also built for strength, for courage, and for the many unknowns that lie in the road. They are built for movement, and love, and taking risks. Taking things on the chin.
Taking it on the chin. by Sarah Kift is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.