Luke was playing a game on iPad recently called “Temple Run.” This animated character dressed like a little Indiana Jones sprints through this temple/maze/obstacle course, careening through the labyrinth, twisting around hairpin turns, vaulting over broken bridges leading to eventual and certain death. As he makes his way through the course, he collects coins in his bottomless adventure sack with infinite amounts of space while a massive gorilla with the head of a vulture is on his heels, waiting for him to trip so he can devour him. Luke is a machine at this game. He breaks every record that anyone has set. It’s actually amazing to watch a his brain work to respond that quickly. He doesn’t blink. I wonder if he’s even breathing.
Around this time of the year, I feel a little like that Indiana Jones guy. Life is like the obstacle course with all the items on the daily checklist because we have the everyday things that need to be done; make the beds, brush the teeth, clothe the tiny people, feed the tiny people, keep the tiny people alive…
…But then we have these added challenges with all the holiday hoops to jump through. Every Christmas card, batch of cookies, present checked off the list, party attended, is a bridge to jump. And I was like Luke playing the game this year. I was impressing even myself by beginning my Christmas shopping in July, having three batches of cookies in the freezer the first week of December, making it to not one, but two of my kids’ Christmas parties at school today–bonus coins!
I was feeling so good, sure I was having a type of runner’s high. I was in a euphoric hysteria laughing at the ease with which I was getting it all done. Tonight, we got the kids to bed in record time. I knew I could breathe easy from here on out. I looked back over my shoulder at that proverbial gorilla-vulture and flipped it the bird. “I’ve got this!” I turned back to continue the race, overly-confident, scooping up a laundry basket at the top of the stairs (Multi-tasking is my middle name!) and started hopping down the staircase.
Then something happened about four steps from the bottom. The damn gorilla must have hooked my foot and I thudded down the stairs on my butt, each step in quick succession, while my arm scraped down the molding on the banister beside me. I lie in a heap at the bottom of the steps wondering what had just happened.
Scott poked his head out into the hall, obviously suppressing laughter at the sound of his wife getting spanked by the stairs. “You ok?” he managed as I shakily got to my feet.
“Yes.” I whimpered. I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or maybe I actually wanted to cry. My arm was stinging and I looked down at it to find a long scratch from elbow to wrist. I realized suddenly how strung tight I was. I started both laughing and crying as I limped to our bedroom. It was unclear in that moment of what was actually in the middle of those emotions. But I decided quickly that whatever it was, there was definitely humor in it.
So many times I think I am in control and quickly (and painfully) learn I am not. And the best part is, it’s all a part of the game we sign up to play. It’s a game in which we’re willing participants. We log in to run the obstacle course the minute we open our eyes and our feet hit the floor in the morning.
Even though I’m a little afraid to leave my room right now, I know I will have to go move the Elf and fill the water bottles so we can do it all over again tomorrow.
In a strange way, I am kind of grateful for falling down the stairs tonight. It was a rude awakening but humor and humility are two things we need to get through life every day.