It was a beautiful sunny day in the middle of February. By noon I had decided that I would go home and run before going out to eat with a bunch of intern friends. I typically run a lap and a half around the gated community I live in. (About 3 miles or so, all told.) A brick sidewalk surrounds grounds though many areas are treacherous to tread. Uneven bricks caused by root growth or ground sinking make for a dangerous path.
The sidewalk on the south side is wide enough for two people to walk abreast, with trees along the street at regular intervals, and an 18 inch terraced wall with grass opposite the street. Most people here tend to be old and walk slow. Or young and just walk slow, but they also walk in the middle of the sidewalk.
As I approached an older man from behind, I jump up on the stone ledge to dodge around him. The stone ledge is maybe 10-12 inches wide. A passenger in the backseat of a passing van sees my action and we exchanged a short smile. Usually (I've done this once or twice) I would hop down right away, but the ledge is smooth, straight, and I am feeling good. So I keep going. When I get to the first driveway I hop down, but hop right back up again on the other side. The bricks along this side are terribly uneven. The type of thing would give OSHA nightmares. So I keep going.
A little ways ahead a couple is walking. As I pass them I glance to my side because the man is a westerner and I don't think I'd seen him around before. That's when my foot slips. My glance causes a missed step and I am falling.
As I pitched forward I have a moment of clarity. Time slows, though not as much as I might have hoped. In my right hand I hold a ring of keys looped over a finger and clenched into a fist. My left hand holds my iPod Touch, blaring Sugar Rush, from the Wreck It Ralph soundtrack into my earbuds. I am falling forward and to my left, uneven bricks lay below.
As if my guardian angel is whispering in my ear, my brain says: roll with it. The extent of my martial arts and acrobatics training comes from playing video games and, most recently, reading the Night Angel and Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks. Praise the Lord, my body apparently knows just what to do. Somehow, I tuck and roll, performing a neat, possibly even graceful summersault, right in front of the startled couple. They are both dressed in tan jackets and expressions of surprise and worry.
I pop up quickly. "Whoa." I say aloud. "Are you okay?" The man asks me. I glance over my limbs and do a quick inventory. My right knee appears to be scrapped and my iPod has a few small abrasions along the bottom corner, but beyond that, I'm unhurt.
"Yeah," I reply. I shake out my arms and legs, already taking a few tentative steps forward and after a couple more slow strides I start jogging again. I run until I round the next corner, mostly to give the couple (and any other witnesses) a better story for later. After I'm out of sight I slow to a walk for a bit and take it a bit easier for the remainder of my exercise.
The Lord was at my side and praise him forever because the medical care in China is awful. I will be more careful in the future, that's for sure. (Maybe I'll stick to yoga for a bit.) I'd like to think reading Brent Weeks has given me some ninja-like super powers, but it's difficult to say for certain.