Monday, October 3, 2011

Falling into Now

Welcome to October and to Step 10–Be Here Now. Even though I’ve told this story before, some of you might not have read it, and it seems like a good way to start our discussion about being in the present moment.

Some years ago, I went to my cabin in the mountains for some quality alone time – no phone, no TV, no kids. Just me and the dog. While I was there I decided that I needed to clean all the pine needles and debris off the roof. I dismissed any hesitance I felt about doing this task when I was alone. I used an extension ladder and a long rake. I was cleaning the very last section of the roof when I felt the ladder slip. I frantically clutched at the roof but there was nothing to hold onto. I knew I was going to fall.

So far it sounds like any bad accident someone who has no business being on a ladder when no one is around might have. But here is where it got interesting. The instant I knew I was going to fall, I let go. I released the fear. Or rather it released me, since I clearly was not doing it deliberately. (At this point, I was not doing anything deliberately.) I was immediately filled with a sense of blissful well-being. Blissful doesn’t even begin to describe it. I don’t know words in any language to describe it. It was like being cradled in the arms of angels. Rapture. Perfection.

I was conscious as I tumbled. I felt my body bounce off the ladder on the way down. I felt my back hit the edge of the deck, and then I flipped off the deck to the ground below and tumbled down the hill to a stop. But all the way down, I was absolutely certain that everything was exactly the way it should be. I knew that my body might be hurt. I expected that at the least something would be broken. Maybe I would be paralyzed or even die. No problem. I was in heaven.

When I came to a stop, I lay there without moving for awhile. The thought crossed my mind that if I tried to move, I might find out that I couldn’t. I felt no pain – maybe a bad sign. I wasn’t in heaven anymore. I was lying on the side of a hill with my dog. I love my dog but she is no hero, and I knew I was on my own if I needed help. Finally, I started trying to see what would move. Fingers, toes, arms, legs. I slowly got to my feet, marveling that everything seemed to be intact and functioning (although I was scratched up and bruised and sore for days after).

I gingerly climbed back up the hill and sat on the deck. My mind started to go to all the scary what if places. But I stopped. I had been given an exquisite gift. Two gifts, really. First, the experience itself. Second, the memory of it.

I haven’t had an experience quite like that since, and I have wisely stayed off ladders. But the memory reminds me that now is always here. And that now is perfect. Now is the holy instant, the doorway to our ultimate happy place. And while I don’t suggest that anyone go flying off a roof to find it, we can pause at any time and take a deep breath to enter the gate.


  1. Thank you for sharing this experience!
    I tensed in suspense reading this, but that made me focus on "now."

    Been working on being conscious of being in the moment so am more mindful than previously but still have to keep practicing it and have been reading the book "1,000 Gifts," and making a list...noticing that the list consists of moments that are "Now." (:

  2. I had a similar experience once, when I thought for a second that I was going to have a fatal car crash. And I remember having a similar feeling than the one you describe here. I felt some kind of acceptance of what was happening and somehow, after the first scary surprise, I felt peace. Maybe it really is what being in the "now" means? It would be great to achieve such a state of mind consciously.

  3. LOL...when I was falling I was freakin' out ... LOL awesome testimony the LORD held you together as you hit banged and pounced around on your way to "plop with a wop" on the thankful you were not seriously injuried...and the sore body the next "days" were there to remind you of the "NOW"....thanks Galen ....enjoyed it temendously...I got to go for a freaky ambulance ride with mine....

  4. Galen, I love your site and nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award.

  5. Nan--I love the idea of the 1000 gifts list. I keep a list like this, too. I bet the book is inspiring. Thanks for commenting.

    Beliza--I had a car accident experience like this, too, many years ago, but not as vivid. It would be nice, wouldn't it, to be able to get in that frame of mind at will. But for me, even having the memory of it helps me focus on now. Thanks for your comment.

    Rhonda--Well, I could have just as easily been freaking out. I take no credit for my zen attitude. It was certainly not my doing, I can tell you that! It was a gift. Hope you were not badly hurt. Thanks for your comment.

    Ellie--Thank you!! I am honored by the award, and very pleased to hear from you. Thanks!

  6. Galen: I certainly hope with your training you have learned to fall. The rag doll method does not work well. I'm glad you're okay.

  7. Oh I do remember this post, it is as great and thought provoking now as it was then...and I do recall just knowing as I read along what was going to have such a great way of turning things in life around for the good...great teachings for all of us!

  8. This very well explains the importance to be in the now. I had a kind of similar experience when I was horse-riding. I knew I was going to fall, so I let go of everything, knowing that I may fall badly or something worse might have happen, but in the instant I felt I was safe, at peace.
    I think experiences like this make us understand that Now is the only time we have and that matters.

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience and thoughts on this. Stay well and have a lovely day!

  9. There is a lesson for everyone to be safety concious otherwise there is a trouble waiting in hiding,
    Thank God you survived.
    Nice post.
    You may visit my October post; it's ready.
    Tariq Mian

  10. JJ--My martial arts training does help me fall on the mat, but I am not sure it is helpful when falling off a roof! I have sometimes wondered what I looked like tumbling down. Maybe a rag doll--who knows? Thanks for your comment.

    Karen--Your observation about turning things around for the good made me stop and think. I realized that really that is what this whole 10 steps idea is about. It reaffirmed for me that this is a choice we can all make. I don't always make that choice, but when I choose otherwise, I can catch myself and make a different choice if I want to. Thanks for your comment.

    Marie--It's interesting how many of us have had similar experiences--falling off horses, car accidents, and others. (I had lots of practice falling off horses!) We sometimes get that little glimpse into the vastness and perfection of Now. Thanks for commenting.

    Tariq--Lesson learned--no more ladders for me! Of course, that won't prevent other opportunities to learn about the beauty of the present moment! Thanks for your comment.

  11. How amazing Galen. The only time I heard of this was a Yogic who fell off his roof and his training kicked into gear and he let himself go and he fell down, sore but unharmed and witnessed by several neighbors who came running. Yes, your training did help. But, people train for years and never ever let go. You are precious! Big hugs!

  12. Glad you are okay, Galen. The old saying is, 'Bloom where you are at.' We can make great changes in our lives from any point and happiness is a choice not something that is bestowed upon us.

  13. Hi Galen,
    There's no time like NOW to take advantage of what Life has to offer. Each 'now' presents a unique opportunity.
    Thank you.
    be good to yourself

  14. Being in the "now" is always the best ...... Galen. That is why they call it the present....because it is "a gift".

    Hugs sweet lady,


  15. That was an amazing story. I really do believe in Guardian angels and you must have one. The experience was real beautifully written; thanks for sharing it.
    Blessings to you!

  16. Sonia--That's an interesting story. I don't know about training. I think of it more as a miracle! Thanks for your comment.

    Nicole--I like that concept of blooming where we're planted. Thanks for commenting.

    David--I like your observation about every Now being an opportunity. Endless possibilities! Thanks for your commment.

    Jo--Love that! The present! Every moment is a gift. Thanks for that!

    LeAnn--I think I had several that day! Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate your comment.

  17. Holding on too tight is the biggest sign of doubt and fear. And it's hard for me to let go of certain situations and not worry. Let go and let God. I'm still learning though and I have to thank you also for sharing that story. Moving visual for something that should be so easy.

  18. Andrea Dawn at The Art of Life once told me if you are not "now here" you are "nowhere". It was inspired of God and whispered to me through my beloved blog community. Now I share it with you.

    I love the 10 steps! It was good being here today. You are my neighbor at Ann's. You posted right before me at Walk with Him Wednesday.

    Only through His grace,

  19. Very interesting story and I am glad you retold it. The one part of illness that is wonder full is that I do not start getting relief until I get fully in the here and now - being present...Do I need to sleep now? Do I need a hot drink now? Do I need help with this task now?

    When feeling fine I just barge ahead and forget to ask the self to be fully present...

    I am so glad you were not seriously hurt - You might not be writing your blog now :)

  20. Udara--Not so easy for me! What happened to me was a gift because I did not let go in a conscious or deliberate way. However, the memory of that gift has indeed helped me in situations since to relax and let go, at least when I'm not falling off a roof! Thanks for commenting.

    Dawn--Thanks for stopping by, neighbor! I will return the visit right away. And thanks for your comment.

    Patricia--Thanks for sharing your observations about illness. I know that has been true for me when I have experienced brief illnesses. I never thought about it in terms of long or chronic illness. I am going to reflect on that. Thanks for commenting.

  21. That is one great lesson. I am not sure I would have been able to let go. I would have probably tried to hang on to the thin air. I am truly learning a lot from your wisdom. Thank you for sharing.

  22. Great story Galen... so well written. I was right there with you through every bump and crash! LOL It also reminded of my neighbour a few years back who under similar circumstances to yours... found herself stuck on the ledge above her front door metres above the concrete for several cold wet hours when the ladder fell down. It was lucky I saw her right on dark as I sped past her front door... then quickly threw the car into reverse when I realised she wasn't just waving wildly to say hello (((chuckles)))

  23. There are times in my Life where I know a hedge of protection must have surrounded me in that moment of time where things could have gone very badly... it does leave a lasting impression and a sense of gratitude. I'm glad your Story had a happy ending... I like happy endings. *winks*

    Dawn... The Bohemian

  24. Bonnie--Let me assure you that I wasn't making a conscious choice to let go and be wise! Like you, my first instinct was to grasp at anything. But there was nothing. The letting go was a gift to me, a miracle I think. I hope I have gained some wisdom from the experience. Thanks for commenting.

    Jean--Hope you didn't get bruised right there with me! Great story about your neighbor. You were the angel that day. There must be a lesson here about ladders, I think. Thanks for your comment.

    Dawn--Me, too. I can think of many times when my guardian angels were working overtime and calling in back up! Thanks for commenting.


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