Falling failing falling. Failing used to mean: failing an assignment, an exam, a subject. Falling behind. Failing chemistry: no matter how hard I tried – I never achieved more than a C. Not an F, but it may as well have been. My dad wanted to go and speak with my Chemistry teacher and ‘sort it all out’. But it wasn’t Mr Jagdeo’s fault – he went over compounds and properties and how oxygen was formed through lunch times and after school with me – but to no avail, I just didn’t get it.
But I persevered –because all of my friends who were more maths-savvy than me were in that class; who cared about a ‘C’ when you could do double-period chemistry with your three best mates (yes I was geek in high school. I’ve embraced that now). So even though I struggled through exams and had my only ever ‘C’ on my report card, my fondest memories of high school include Chemistry class.
Falling, falling, falling down. I was always falling down – having been born with the clumsy gene, I was never very graceful at gymnastics, volleyball, soccer. Once I got picked to play defence during soccer season – my favourite position as it meant less running around, and in my excitement, I jumped up and down, and landed – not on the soles of my feet, but on my right ankle, and my bum. I had sustained an injury before the whistle went to mark the beginning of the game and I was carried off on a stretcher. I failed to play that season altogether due to a badly sprained ankle. I was, however, a consummate cheerleader (minus the pom-poms and aerobic movements).
Falling, falling, falling in love. Flick the first ‘l’ for an ‘i’ and it becomes failing in love. Failing in love. That plummeting sensation when a relationship you believe is solid is actually crumbling, like a cliff that seems impermeable is washed away by the onslaught of rain, like chalk is crushed underfoot into fine powder the wind disperses. When a relationship solidified by marriage vows and sanctified by religious rituals is then eroded by anger, hostility, pain, anguish. Feeling like a failure for successfully making use of the no-fault divorce system, made widely accessible through the web, allowing the legal binds of marriages to be untied through a few keystrokes online.
Failing at sobriety. Turning into a drunk, a lush, an alcoholic. Knowing the damage to mind, body and spirit through the consumption of spirits, but like a self-deluded fool expecting a different outcome each time. Feeling like a failure because I can’t ‘hold my drink’. When in fact failing at this questionable biological ability is a saving grace.
Life’s many tests – pass some, fail some, win some, lose some. Like those hurdles that we had to jump over in physical education back in school, sometimes you fly over with transient grace, other times you fall flat on your back, staring up at the sky, the breath knocked out of you. And all you can do is dust yourself off, check for broken bones, and then pick your way through the detritus and start again.