I Get Knocked Down
Posted By: Ali Anderson
I should have seen it coming. That was the first thought that went through my head as I was lying on the sparring mat. My second thought was that I should Google “cracked rib” if I made it home alive. And my third thought went something like, “I’m too old for this (insert expletive here),” which is laughable now considering I was only 27 years old.
I was a green belt (respectable mid-level) and my sparring partner in class that night was a second-degree brown belt (skilled enough to kill me with her big toe), which meant she was probably having mercy on me. (In my own defense, I was neck-deep in spreadsheets all day while she was probably picking out her prom dress). All it took was one well-placed kick on my unprotected side and I was on the losing end of a Bruce Lee movie. Sure it hurt physically, but that was nothing compared to how my pride was bleeding out right there on the mat for everyone to see.
Though it was on a smaller, less serious scale that night, I had experienced one of those common denominators of humanity: Loss. Fortunately for me, it was only loss of pride; I had shown up, pushed myself hard and sweated it out. Even so, sometimes you just get knocked down. Maybe it’s a professional set-back, a relationship malfunction, or a diagnosis. No one lives life without getting the wind knocked out of them at least once.
Julia Cameron knows what I’m talking about. If you’ve been following along at home, you know we’re up to Chapter 8 in Cameron’s The Artist’s Way now. This chapter deals with strength, loss and survival as an artist – not exactly warm and fuzzy stuff. I know with certainty that I will get the wind kicked out of me (photographically speaking) at some point in my career. It will happen and I will be crushed, angry, and maybe even embarrassed. This isn’t pessimism, but rather it is me guarding against the tendency for perfectionism. I am not prepared for an “artistic loss” as Cameron phrases it, but I know that I will find a way to frame my loss as gain.
I know this because recovering from loss means you have to first get up off the mat. Then after your ribs stop hurting, you realize that you just learned to protect your open side a little better. You just learned how to get up after failure, through pain and even embarrassment. And then you shake it off.