Falling Up

We all fall, the important thing is to fall up.

Yes, from time to time, we all fall, and often our falling is not of our own making. Something or someone lets us down, doesn’t conform to our own standards, disables us from maintaining our own standards but yes, one way or another we have to find a way and our own way to fall up and not down. By falling up I mean that, despite what has happened we don’t let go of or lose sight of our own standards, and somehow, through and beyond the difficulties we have to undergo and undertake as a result of this interruption of our usual trajectory, our usual ‘gait’ we might say, we have to maintain that trajectory, that gait, which is, of course, a generally optimistic journey that we call our life, our identity, our reality.

I’ve worked on a memoir (or should I day ‘some memoir writing’) from time to time. Whether it will ever be fully formed and published I don’t now.. I hope so, as I particularly enjoy this kind of writing, and it seems to be somehow less pressured than other forms, perhaps because, after all, only I (only you) can tell this story and there is a certain freedom and a special and precious truth in it for that reason. I long ago decided the title of it would be ‘Falling Up’, and here the title refers (or at least referred -the last time I worked on my memoir- ) to class relationships, which are habitually visualised as a vertical phenomenon, i.e. ‘Low’ and ‘Higher’ classes, ‘Upper’ class etc.

It seemed to me, in choosing this title, that I have indeed lived in a close dialogue with this vertical model, and always felt my life, career and identity to be some kind of ‘upward’ journey from once class to another, from unemployment, to unskilled employment, to skilled employment, as well as from a poor diet, housing and dress to better housing, diet and dress, and from poor vocabulary and articulation to better vocabulary and articulation etc.

Nevertheless, all the time I have been apparently ‘ascending’ in this way – and I have to say here, that it has been a whole lifetime of genuine struggles and setbacks, and which are not over yet – it has never felt like simply climbing a mountain or a set of steep steps but just as much a series of crises, disasters, immense challenges, and falls – hence ‘Falling Up’. Sometimes, out of a disaster would come an unexpected ‘silver lining’ a way out, ‘up’ and forwards that could not have been predicted. And yet, as above, I think this might also have been because, at every time I fell (perhaps occasionally pushed as well) something inside me (along with friends, family and other benign forces outside me) insisted on rescuing me, insisted on the continuation (refusing the ruination) of myself, my story, my standards and my reality.

I suspect that this is what most of us do, and that when we don’t, or for those who don’t or can’t, catastrophe ensues. I sometimes think I took this propensity to ‘insist’ upon the continuation of my own narrative, against all odds, from my mother, who would work tirelessly to help each of her five children (well into their adulthood) to right their boat whenever it had ‘turned turtle’; and who, I think, sometimes strategically put her head in the sand, or stuck her fingers in her ears while making noises with her mouth until something unacceptably negative had either gone away or been absorbed into the fabric of her reality in such a way that it was no longer unacceptably salient, no longer intruding on her spinal narrative of a good life and a happy and fair (enough) world. This stubborn insistence on maintaining happiness and well-being of course made my mum radiate goodness, virtue, optimism and promise, like a perfect apple.

As we said at the outset, when we fall it is often caused by external forces that force us to relocate, to take a grip on, and to keep ‘climbing’ the ‘ladder’ of our own reality. Sometimes that is hard to do, and you might even have opponents or assailants trying to prize your fingers off the rungs and to destroy your ‘ladder’ and replace it with their own. In such circumstances you can repeat the mantra, ‘I may have fallen, but I insist upon falling up’.


2 thoughts on “Falling Up

  1. Hello Paul , I like this notion of ‘falling up’, of being ever optimistic. To extend your climbing metaphor it makes me of the exhausting activity of clambering up shale, slipping backwards but gradually moving forward…we have to keep heading for the top of the mountain.
    Here goes….falling up again!


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