The Fallen Woman watches the Falling Man
I was lying on my back looking at the sky when I decided to move away from Minnesota.
The black ice was invisible as I stepped out my door, and the next thing I knew I was on my back. “This is the last winter I deal with ice and snow,” I vowed.
I cautiously checked out my physical status. I had hit my head, but not hard enough to lose consciousness or feel dizzy. I could move my legs, my arms.
I sat up. I was a bit stunned, but I could get up. I rolled over to the frosted grass to gain traction for my ungainly rise.
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The Falling Man opening sequence of Mad Men is an artistic example of disorientation, the floor opening up and the anonymous 1960’s man falling past advertising signs and pictures of beautiful women, a cocktail, a wedding ring, a family. The 1960’s decade disintegrated from a mawkish tradition into a reconfiguration of cultural norms.
The opening sequence of Mad Men also echoed the horror of The Falling Man, the photographs of the person isolated against the World Trade Center as he tumbles to his death on the pavement below.
I hope he jumped as one last choice of autonomy, although others have said there was no choice in the 1000 degree heat generated by burning jet fuel.
It is seasonal autumn when the leaves, through abscission, are separated by their nodes from the tree stems. They fall en masse, after a hard frost; they are blown away in a stormy torrent; or flutter down on a beautiful day, pieces in the piles of color raked for jumping.
My own greatest fear is of falling. I am a leaf, uncertain when the separation will come. I use walking sticks for balance, but I have still fallen. My arthritic knees are bone-on-bone, and they are unreliable. A joint may give way unexpectedly. The disconnect between my brain and my physical action is unexpected, disconcerting.
I have fallen three times recently, once badly enough to bruise my cheek and my big toe and all flesh in between. I take physical therapy to regain balance and learn tricks. Walking sticks appear sportier than a cane, and there are two of them. I actually bought and used them for Nordic walking several years ago. Now they are physical necessities.
I have an appointment to schedule knee replacement surgery.
It is more fun to have a scurrilous romp or two and become a fallen woman through one’s escapades. I have been a fallen woman in the past.
I just don’t want to be a falling woman — artistic, tragic, or comic — in the future. Or as Gerard Manley Hopkins said in his poem “Spring and Fall”
Margaret are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving….
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.