At a certain point, as I got older, I realized this was all bullshit. Yes, some people can become enraged and briefly commit themselves to brutal counterattacks through willpower and a burst of adrenaline. But such episodes are passing and almost instantaneous.
The yarns of mighty heroes battling with open wounds and broken bones and internal injuries are so much farce.
A little over a week ago I took a very hard fall while hiking down a trail in the steep and rugged South Mountains of North Carolina. I didn’t just lose my footing and fall. I fell hard. Some years ago I learned that once you have completely lost your balance and Mr. Gravity is going to have his inevitable way with you and toss you savagely into Mother Earth’s embrace, then the best thing to do is just to let it happen. Don’t brace yourself too forcefully or you’re likely to receive an even more severe injury than otherwise. Merely…fall.
This is exactly what I did in the second I lost my footing and realized that I wasn’t going to be able to get my feet back under me. I went with the gravitational flow.
And when I did meet the planetary mass, it was a rough occasion. I fell–as I said–hard. Also, I did not fall onto soft earth covered in grass, or even in elastic shrubbery. No. I smashed into a devil’s carpet of rocks and small boulders. In fact, my thorax met a mass of quartz roughly the size of my own torso. I recall the breath going out of me with a tremendous ‘OOF!’. And I may have even lost consciousness for a second.
A hiker who had just passed me came running up to ask if I needed help, so I must have been out for a moment before I regained my footing.
Here’s the thing, though.
In the fall I dislocated my left pinkie finger. Almost ten days later and it still hurts. Today I caught it on a cabinet door and pulled it sideways and I think I may have broken it. The pain was enough to nearly cause me to vomit. Yeah. I little pinkie finger. I can’t make a fist. I haven’t been able to make a fist since I fell and discovered my little finger looked like something out of a Tex Avery cartoon. Even after I forced the bones back into their proper symmetry I couldn’t make a fist. The pain is just too severe.
And my chest still hurts where I collided with the rocks. I’m lucky I didn’t shatter any ribs, but the legendary Lady was with me.
The upshot of my ruminations on these relatively minor injuries is this:
You can’t fight in such a state. Forget about it. If I was forced to fight since that fall, I would have been doing so with one hand. And if anyone had punched me in the ribs or chest I would likely have folded up like a piece of soggy cardboard. Ten days later and this is probably still the case. (I hate to give information out to anyone wishing to beat the crap out of me, but the plain and honest truth of the matter is that I probably couldn’t physically defend myself right now. And this is all from a simple fall from over a week past.)
Which brings home all the more to me that each of those tales of the noble Fascist anti-hero duking it out with the bad guys after losing a couple of pints of blood and being slashed and thumped and shot…it’s about as silly and unrealistic as fiction can get.