My parents had a lot of foresight in not naming me “Grace.”
Given my natural proclivity toward clumsiness, the name “Grace” would have just added to the indignity of growing up without — as Dictionary.com defines “grace” — “elegance or beauty of form, … motion, or action.”
The first time I was aware that I lacked grace was in summer camp when I was 9 and received an award for “grace and charm in the field of fishing.” It was one of those end-of-the-year awards given to each camper. Some were sweet, some were admiring, some were prophetic. Mine was sarcastic and was bestowed upon me because three times during the summer, I had fallen into the lake while fishing from the bank.
My life of gracelessness continued throughout elementary school and high school, where I was picked close to last for teams in P.E. and wisely decided to focus on activities like yearbook.
I then entered adulthood, where grace continued to escape me. The one “saving grace” of gracelessness in adulthood is that although it might still be significant from an injury perspective (just ask my toes, which have had more run-ins with bed frames than my 9-year-old self had with the lake), it’s not as important from an embarrassment perspective as it was once upon a time.
But that’s a generalization. As with all generalizations, it doesn’t encapsulate particulars. For the particular, I introduce Exhibit A: July 4, 2021.
We had friends over for the evening and were socializing outside; and a few of us were playing ladder ball, a game in which players throw a contraption consisting of two golf balls — like balls attached to a short rope and try to get it to wrap around one of three rungs of a ladder-like frame.
I was standing off to the side of the game when another player threw one of the ball sets — and it started flying in my direction. Those balls under the power of projectile motion are rather painful on impact. So, without taking time to assess anything further, I turned to my left and started running with all my might.
Did I mention that there was a tree immediately to my left?
It wasn’t a large tree; it was a 2-year-old sapling that I had named Randolph. Randolph is just under 7 feet tall, and the bottom of the middle third of his trunk, where I made initial contact, is less than 2 inches in circumference.
And, so, the tree didn’t stop me in my tracks. Rather, the law of inertia was in play: Objects in motion stay in motion … at the same speed and in the same direction.
In other words, I hit the tree and — straddling it — kept going as it bent (gracefully!) beneath my weight until I reached the top of the tree, which was now mere inches from the ground, and finally ended up tree-free, releasing Randolph from his agony.
It all happened so fast that I didn’t have time to think about it until afterward, when — although all of the onlookers were laughing hysterically — I decided that as I had landed on my two feet and hadn’t hurt any limbs (including those of Randolph!) in the process, I must have looked quite graceful.
My husband begged to differ. He told me that my acrobatics reminded him of a movie scene in which … well, let’s just leave it at that.
Anyway, I’ve decided that if I wasn’t exactly graceful, so be it. At least it can’t be considered a “fall from grace” — as grace was never my starting point.
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