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Emails to my Therapist

Are There Genes for Climbing Over Fences?

Dear Nicholas, I realized recently that my mostly-wonderful genetic inheritance from my mother (including rather sturdy physical health) also includes a quality of being ever-so-slightly reckless. I now need to tame that particular gene.

I don’t mean that she was racing motorcycles or rock climbing without ropes. Instead, she drove fast and ran when walking would have done. She was bold in business, and that was starting in the 1940s. And so on.

I cherish the good I’ve gotten from that legacy. And I decided recently to modify one piece of it. I realized I had a choice in the matter.

What made this clear to me was a recent mini-adventure.  Visiting family in Krakow, Poland, a few weeks ago, I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood. The pastel stucco houses set close to the edge of the narrow street were so appealing. But I found that the gate from the side yard out onto the street was locked and the key was not handy. So I climbed over.

Did Not Win Gold

The actual fence in question

It was no great athletic feat, stepping up on metal rails, maybe four feet high, slinging one leg over, then the other. However, as they say in the Olympics, I did not stick my landing.

Instead I staggered into the street and fell hard in front of a parked car, with, as a final flourish a half-somersault. No damage done. For a day, one hand was sore. For a week, an impressive bruise.

But the little episode gave me pause.

I was glad that the parked car wasn’t moving. And I decided that, since I’m not planning to refine my fence-climbing skills, that wee adventure was an unnecessary risk.  (My stepson Chuck volunteered that I wasn’t likely at risk of neighbors calling the police, since people climbing out are less suspicious than people  climbing in.)

A No-Fall Policy

The incident made me realize that my mother would have been young as a healthy fifty-year-old up until five days before her death at ninety-six, had she not had a few falls, the last of them at age ninety-four while looking for a flashlight in the dark when the power at her house went out.

The Mom Genes Are Mostly A Good Thing

I do like a can-do spirit. And there’s no reason why age (my own being merely 73 at the moment) should interfere with that.  But I’ve seen what a bad fall can do. My little tumble into the street was just a reminder.  In future, I’m only going to climb fences when I really need to. Otherwise, I’m going to go inside and get the key.

Be it firmly resolved….





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  • kenju
    June 1, 2022 at 2:14 pm Reply

    Sounds like a good plan! I am glad that you were not badly hurt in that fall. I have taken a few tumbles in the past 3-4 years. One resultd in a broken collarbone and another a broken wrist. I don’t recommend either (painful and long-lasting).

    I didn’t know my birth mother well (I net her when I was 53 and she was 68. I suppose allowing herself to get pregnant at 16, while yet unmarried, shows a reckless spirit. I am happy that I didn’t followin those footsteps, although I have done a few reckless things in my life. Here’s to using good judgment in the future – for both of us!

    • Peggy Payne
      June 1, 2022 at 3:15 pm Reply

      You seem to have plenty of spunk, kenju, just the right amount. Meeting your birth mother at 53 is one good example.

  • Alice Saw
    June 1, 2022 at 3:08 pm Reply

    I was never brave so now I realize that I lived in fear of everything and now that I am 78 it continued. .My parents were always instilling fear and describing the worst case senecio for all aspects in life ! So Peggy jump that fence !!!!!!!

    • Peggy Payne
      June 1, 2022 at 3:14 pm Reply

      I’m grateful for my fence-jumping enthusiasm, Alice, but hoping to avoid further rolls in the street unless there’s some good reason to take the risk. Wishing you a burst of new energy!

  • June 1, 2022 at 10:41 pm Reply

    I support cautious adventurism /protecting yourself – I sure don’t wanna fall, and I don’t want fear of falling to deprive me of physical pleasures. So I’ll continue cautiously optimistic, fully engaged in enjoying all I can still do. – it’s not necessary for either of us to fall.

    • Peggy Payne
      June 1, 2022 at 11:06 pm Reply

      Good balanced philosophy, Bob. No pun intended.

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