Suggested Audio Jukebox:
 Atmosphere “Trying To Find A Balance”
 Dire Straits “Walk of Life”
 Eric B. & Rakim “Juice (Know The Ledge)”
 The Police “Walking on The Moon”
Best foot forward, isn’t that what they say? I’ve got two of these balance boards in my inventory and, to my knowledge, both of them are of the lefty variety so I’m none the wiser as to what the superior one might be. However, I’m fairly assured that any kind of movement beats remaining static, so I’m more than happy to roll the dice on this occasion. After all, what’s the very worst that could happen? Perhaps I will take an almighty tumble, end up with a face full of asphalt, and earn myself an overnight hospital stay. But at least I have plenty of people on hand to sign my cast. Besides, I always did have a thing for nurses and, at some point, my bedpan is going to need changing. While I’m enjoying my thorough flannel bath, I will have forgotten all about any clusterfuck moments, and be primed for my next failed expedition. How many times can I fall before I call it quits, do like a python, and get my very best slither on? Not entirely sure but I’d hedge a bet on hundreds. It’ll take more than the equilibrium of Bambi in heels to keep this buck down.
noun: a tentative act or measure which is the first stage in a long or challenging process.
So I guess we should start with the baby steps before moving on to leaps and bounds right? They do say not to run without first learning to walk and this didn’t seem to pose too much of a problem for a toddler with the world at his feet so I hit the ground walking in no time. However, there was a little confusion as to which way I should put my getaway sticks to work. Aerosmith told me to walk one way, The Bangles seemed to prefer the style of the Pharaohs, Katrina and The Waves had themselves a glorious tan from strolling in those summer rays, and Dionne Warwick suggested simply walking on by. Dire Straits seemed to offer the soundest advice as they left it down to my own personal choice and didn’t get pushy about how I should ramble. Granted, I would be required to watch out for The Road To Hell as signposted by Chris Rea but, as long as I walked the line like Johnny Cash, I shouldn’t arrive at any mischief. I could’ve throttled Paula Abdul around that time as she deduced that two steps forward equated to two steps back and that was hardly encouraging intelligence. Then, just as I was about to set off on my pilgrimage, Lou Reed popped up unannounced and handed me a flyer for The Wild Side. It was only a few blocks away and sounded like a hoot and a holler but I wasn’t quite sure whether they had diaper-changing facilities so gave that one a rain check.
Actually, I haven’t the faintest idea how it played out, as my memory is kind of sketchy with regards to any toddling antics. I do know that I was covering all kinds of ground in no time and the world soon started to open up before me. It’s kind of strange when you think about it as, when my mid-life crisis gatecrashed the party three years back, I found myself returning to fetal position. Thankfully things didn’t escalate any further as the last thing a seventy-two-year-old woman wishes to hear is that her 6″1 son is looking to lease her womb for a second time. However, things were pretty desperate and I no longer had any concept of forward direction. All paths appeared to point to woe and I was tempted just to sit around and wait things out. Then I rubbed shoulders with a few other grounded individuals and discovered that I wasn’t alone. Moreover, they were only too happy to act as my spotters as I stretched my legs and stepped away from the vile funk enveloping me. It certainly wasn’t a walk in the park and I was prone to numerous wobbles as I frantically searched for my center. But something extraordinary happened and I had no idea what that was until I arrived at the first of many checkpoint beacons.
It had been baby steps all the way but, what I hadn’t realized, was just how fast they accumulate. Glancing into the slipstream, I was thrilled to discern that my dark place was no longer quite so all-encompassing. It can be easy to remain short-sighted as to the ground we have traversed until we grind to a halt and check our compasses. Orienteering had never really been my thing and you should see me endeavoring to pitch a tent as you may well relinquish your bladder. Meanwhile, reef knots always seemed utterly pointless, I was ejected from boy scouts for brawling, and the last time I slept inside a sleeping bag, I was accompanied by itching powder. Never really been much of a rambler. Fuck that shit, give me a nice sturdy bed frame, rub some Vicks into my chest, read me a story, and I’ll sleep for eight hours like I’ve got a tit in my mouth the whole time. But don’t lead me out into the wild as who know what kinds of American werewolves are lurking out in these moors? I’m ranting now but, the fact was, I had absolutely no right to have made it even this far and I knew it.
I think it was then that it started to sink in a little you know. My journey time had felt decidedly brief and this was because I was never once alone in my baby steps. Others joined me on my stroll and they were no less sure on their feet than I so we all wobbled together. At times it may have felt as though the whole convoy was about to capitulate but, each time this was threatened, the support around me seemed to strengthen. If I was to go down, then that would mean taking everyone else down with me, and they would gladly take this dive just to save me from feeling singled-out. This was far more than a mere sense of duty, nobody was obliged to help me, they just did and from the very goodness of their hearts. Of course, now that I had taken my very first baby steps, it seemed only right that breast-feeding came up next on the agenda. Apparently lactose is vital in the reinforcement of healthy joints and I couldn’t risk all this being for nothing so wailed at the top of voice until the boobies closed in. If I do say myself, I looked rather dashing with a white mustache. Moreover, I was now primed for the next leg.
This is where it all grew a little more disconcerting. You see, my new friends had done all they could to ensure my safe passage, but the next part was down to me and me alone. I had mixed feelings about leaps of faith as, while Thelma and Louise looked particularly buoyant as they dove-tailed from the cliff top in their 1966 Ford Thunderbird, I wouldn’t have wanted to be the one cutting them out of their alloy sarcophagus at the foot of the canyon. Was somebody likely to catch me? How does this traditionally play out? I mean, it seemed a mighty long way down from where I was standing and I was never really that great with extreme heights. My next consideration was Hans Gruber and, while John McClane had a reputation for dying hard, poor Hans never looked likely to be returning for the sequel once he begun his descent. As for The Emperor, for all I know, he’s still in free fall but he deserved that shit and more as far as I was concerned for constructing the Death Star. My only hope came from a most unlikely source, Looney Tunes to be precise, and a certain coyote who appeared to have mastered the art of safe landings.
I say mastered, when those rising dust clouds suggested that his landing had been far from poised. But we all love a trier and Wile E. Coyote was nothing if not persistent in his pursuit of that wretched cuckoo. Alas, he was foiled every time by shoddy ACME merchandise, but that didn’t stop him from dusting his shit back off, puffing that furry chest out to capacity, and plummeting once more just moments later. If it’s good enough for Wile E. then it’s good enough for me. This logic served me well as I clenched all ten of my toes and prepared to launch myself from the spring-board. Looking down was too terrifying a consideration to entertain and, besides, I’d been introduced to the foot of my chasm, unwittingly I might add, way back at the fetal phase. If I was going to do this, take this leap, risking life and limb for the cause, then it seemed wiser to do so blind. I had to keep things real as, should I plummet face first into a jagged rock during descent, then it was about to be piñata time for me. However, under the guidance of any fellow salmon, I could still just about weasel out of popping. Procrastination certainly wasn’t getting me anywhere fast and those air miles weren’t earning themselves, so I stepped the hell off my ledge and commenced the swan dive.
I’m sure glad I did too as I was proved right in my estimations the moment my feet returned to terra firma. I checked myself for injuries and none appeared to have been accumulated, all my faculties were in working order, and the applause around me was absolutely rapturous. Turned out that I’d done a fair few people proud by trusting my twisted gut that day. Since then, I have taken various similar leaps of faith, and not all of them have worked out quite as hunky dory. That said, I’d never turn my nose up at being a frequent flyer. You just needed to select your wingmen carefully and trust that fate will do the rest. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? Being compacted into a fleshy omelette? Fair enough, that’s one for the con side. However, I’m all about the pros and I don’t need to crack open a fortune cookie to know that not trying is essentially dying. Granted, we are bound to take a few hard knocks along the way, but you don’t hear Hannibal Smith whining on about the times that a plan didn’t come together do you? I’m alive dagnabbit, pulse still strong, lungs holding on, and not about to fritter these kinds of exclusive opportunities, in absolute spite of peril.
Anyhoots, today I took a tremendous leap and did so with all the faith that true friendship affords me. This was no simple training exercise, instead it was the realest of deals and entailed making the appointment with doom that I had been putting off for weeks now. My breathing has been increasingly labored of late, chest tight, morning hacking fits more regular, lethargy plaguing me with its demoralizing indifference, and I have known full well that time is no longer on my side if I wish to evade something catastrophic. Now I will make this abundantly clear and not because I’m writing my own obituary here – I am comfortable now with whatever destiny brings and will take whatever pills I am offered with great willing, be they bitter or sweet. If you think about it, that’s a good thing rather than the somber acceptance it may appear. Suddenly an insignificant little thing like getting a check-up doesn’t feel anywhere near as daunting. Again, what’s the worst case scenario? Bad news. Can I change that? Uh-uh. So what can I change then? Everything in my power and that is considerable when surging in unison. Together we do that, form a robust armada, capable of changing outlooks and, in turn, lives. How could I possibly not leap with that as a sweetener?
Yet it all started with baby steps. It can be the tiniest, most seemingly insignificant thing, one sparked fuse, and suddenly any storm clouds begin to part and calmer waters approach. The ground we cover isn’t important at the offset as it’s all about finding bearings and locking in coordinates, before shifting those rudders accordingly. Eventually we are primed for the next leg of our maiden voyage and far more inclined to swim as opposed to sinking. One thing’s for sure, it sure beats treading water. That shit got old at Jaws II and I’d rather take my chances than leave them to wash ashore and never be any the wiser. Today I took a giant leap and may well pat myself on the back you know as I finally did the most unmanly thing of facing my fears head on and still came away reeking of testosterone. How it plays out from hereon in is anybody’s sweepstake but, should that involve a few more leaps of faith, then sign me up as these clown shoes make for the most wondrous flippers. Now if only I could find some waterproof face paint, I’d be laughing.