Pain is relative.
For me, it’s more like a first cousin.
I was reminded of that the hard way shortly before noon on Friday.
I was jogging back from In Shape on East Yosemite Avenue. I was soaking wet after first jogging to Club Cal Fit and then to In Shape to take back-to-back RIPPED classes from Nicole.
I make it a habit to pay attention when I’m jogging or hiking. I don’t wear ear buds listening to tunes. Nor do I really focus on much except to look and listen for anything that might be a precursor to me becoming a human version of a gnat on a radiator.
And, yes, I do look for those wonderful slight rises in sidewalks that can prove a bit dangerous if you are moving at a pace fast than a brisk walk.
I missed one Friday.
But instead of going down hitting my hands and elbows first I somehow managed to land on my chest first followed closely by my knees.
I’ve taken some spectacular falls over the years but this was one for the books.
Normally I hesitate for less than 10 seconds to stumble to my feet, check to see how bad I’m bleeding and continue on my way with pain joining me as a jogging partner.
On Friday when I went down along the sound wall on East Yosemite across from the Sinclair gas station, I didn’t bounce back up. I hurt. Scratch that. I hurt big time. My chest was killing me and knees were screaming obscenities at me big time for being a klutz.
I didn’t move for at least 30 seconds if not longer.
Motorists across the way stopped and yelled out if I was OK. A student who I had just jogged past maybe 10 second earlier had doubled back. Apparently a 59-year-old, 165-pound klutz makes a big noise when he goes down.
“Sir, are you OK?”
At this point I was somewhere between embarrassed and angry at myself.
My reply was the same to about a half dozen motorists that asked as well, “I’m fine, thank-you, I’m fine.”
Meanwhile my body was screaming, “Liar!”
After a minute I finally managed to get to my feet. I was confused. How in the heck was I hurting more than a few years back when I fell 8 feet backwards off a dry waterfall in a Death Valley canyon and how did I manage to land on my chest first?
The fall in Death Valley was broken somewhat by grabbing on to outcroppings and landing on my backpack. On Friday it was more like a bad Dick Van Dyke copy cat with nothing between me and the concrete except pride.
I leaned against the sound wall for a few seconds making sure I didn’t bruise much more than my dignity. My knees didn’t look too bad and I didn’t even have a scratch on my elbows, arms or hands.
“Not bad,” I thought.
It then started jogging toward Powers Avenue again. Within seconds my chest starting tell me jogging was a stupid idea every time I inhaled. So I did what any guy in denial would do, I kept jogging.
But I didn’t jog for long.
After I rounded the corner and neared the fire station, pain finally won out. I braced myself against the sound wall silently cursing my stupidity for not paying close enough attention to the rises in the sidewalk.
I started to jog again but thought better. I began walking when a lady pulled over in a pickup truck and insisted that she give me a ride. She stated the obvious. I wasn’t too good of shape. I almost took her up on her offer. But then I realized I was dripping wet from sweat. Besides if I was going hiking the next day I had to walk it off or my body was going to be slightly on the stiff side. I thanked her and finally she went on her way. But then it dawned on me. I was pretty sure I knew who she was but I had no idea what her name was.
I couldn’t think because all that got my attention was my aching chest and now thoroughly bloody knees.
By the time I got home I found out I had ripped off at least two layers of skin on my knees.
The pain, though, was downright delightful compared to my chest. I had either bruised a rib or two or perhaps bruised a lung. Breathing never felt so painful.
I learned a couple of things.
First, people are pretty darn nice when they see a stranger in distress or else they like coming to the aid of old fools.
Second, I was wrong in my previous thoughts that only two broken legs would keep me from a Saturday hike in the Sierra. Obviously doing a chest plant on a sidewalk can yank plans for a trip to Yosemite
Third, it never hurt so good when I finally went for a jog Saturday. And hurt it did.
Call it the importance of getting back in the saddle or keeping your body in motion so you don’t succumb to pain.
At any rate taking a fall is an effective way to appreciate things.
In a second, your entire life could change: A car could run a red light, you could have a heart attack, or you could fall on the sidewalk and not get back up.
Appreciate the gift of life and don’t squander it.
And be kind of sidewalks in the hope they will be kind to you.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.