52 Reasons to Get Up
On Friday, December 17, 2021, at approximately 9:35 p.m. I fell.
Here’s what happened: As I navigate the car up the driveway, the back door swings open.
“I gotta go to the bathroom!”
I shift the car in park, Chase jumps out, slams the car door, sprints to the house, throws open the glass storm door, disappears, a second passes and Maggie May appears wagging her tail behind the glass as if she’s for sale.
I cut the ignition, open the car door, and as I step outside I lose my balance. After a few windmills, a few knee jerks, a panicked, “Oh shit!” I go down.
I land hard on my left elbow, then my left shoulder (the shoulder with a torn rotator cuff from a previous fall) and then my left hip. After a fall, my mind, like a computer searching for viruses, goes into full body scan mode. All bones appear intact. No bleeding detected. Teeth are stable and in their proper place. Fingers and toes wiggle properly. However, my left elbow and shoulder throb. There may be damage. Further inspection is needed.
I turn over to my back and stare at the stars. Suburbia, like a line cut from a Robert Frost poem, is “lovely, dark, and deep.” My breath rolls out like a cloud. For a moment, I’m a kid again. Carelessly laying on the cold ground, staring at the sky, alone, wondering, and feeling small.
But reality, as it always does, hits like a hammer. I’m a self-respecting 41- year-old man. I have my own kids to think about and neighbor’s opinions to worry about. I can’t be laying on my back in my driveway on a December night for, what seems to be, no apparent reason.
I sit up, breathe, wince, cradle my left elbow with my right hand, and get up. Again.
I stagger to the house. Maggie May’s tail wags and she dances in the doorway. She doesn’t say so, but I think she’s happy to see me.
This fall didn’t result in any major damage. Some scrapes and bruises but nothing hospital-worthy. Over the past year the phrase “get up” has weaved its way into my life, my writing. It’s the title of two chapters in Bedtime Stories for the Living. “Get up” is now a mantra. A mentality. A call to action. To get up out of bed. To get up after a physical fall. To get up after a fall from grace. To get up when you’re scared. To get up after you’ve been defeated. To get up when you don’t think you can get up.
Because getting up cultivates courage.
Because staying down is not an option.
Because there will always be more reasons to get up than to stay down.
3. Watching Elf with my kids.
4. Someone you love resting their head on your shoulder.
5. The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra
6. Hot morning coffee.
7. A full moon hanging tight to the morning sky.
8. Warm movie-theater popcorn.
9. Haley’s high school acceptance letter.
10. Unsolicited hugs from my kids.
11. The way the earth smells after it rains.
12. Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen.
13. Chase pivoting to turn a double play on a perfect summer afternoon.
14. Myself as a four-year-old child.
15. Myself as a 50-year-old man.
16. Writing to you.
17. A glowing fireplace on a cold, December night.
18. A 5-star Amazon book review.
19. Dylan smiling and holding his school issued Leadership Award.
20. A bowl of sugary cereal.
21. Reminiscing with friends.
22. Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting.
23. A freshly made bed.
24. Let it Enfold You by Charles Bukowksi, read by Timothee Chalamet.
25. The way Maggie May tilts her head when she’s confused.
24. Inside jokes.
25. Laughing until my stomach hurts.
27. Listening to songs that were popular when I was in high school.
28. A splash of cold water on my morning face.
29. The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday.
30. My parent’s support.
31. The smell of a Christmas tree.
32. Driving with the windows down and the radio up.
33. Taking a walk.
34. Taking a deep breath.
35. Talking to a stranger about my book.
36. Receiving an email from a former student.
37. Steak on a BBQ grill.
38. Support groups.
39. Watching the snow fall.
40. Learning something new.
41. A received thank-you note.
42. On the Rainey River by Tim O’Brien.
43. The way Maggie May rests her head on my lap.
45. Warm bread.
46. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
47. Afternoon naps on the couch.
49. The stories I haven’t written yet.
50. Cooking dinner for my family.
51. Hearing my kids laugh.
52. Knowing someone else may need to read this list.
I want to wish you a safe and reflective holiday season full of laughter and cheer. Thank you so much for sharing this blog with others, engaging me, and supporting Bedtime Stories for the Living. I’m truly grateful for you.
Need a 5-star holiday gift? Bedtime Stories for the Living makes a great gift for all the dreamers on your list!!!
If you read BSFL I would love an Amazon review! Due to some Jeff Bezos concocted algorithm, more book reviews lead to greater exposure. And greater exposure equates to higher book sales and as I wrote in BSFL, “college for three ain’t free.”
Are you a reader? Looking for your next good book to read or listen to? Check out my new page “Jay’s Book Shelf” for some book recommendations.
Check out my recent interview with Christopher Lewis of the “Dads with Daughters” Podcast. We talk fatherhood, my brain, and my book.
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Jay Armstrong is a writer, speaker, and a former award-winning high school English teacher. Despite being diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, that impairs his movement, balance, eyesight, and speech–Jay presses on. He hopes to help you find joy, peace, and meaning in life. For Jay, a good day consists of 5 things:
4. Hearing his three children laugh
5. Hugging his wife
(Bonus points for a dinner with his parents or a beer with his friends)
Jay hasn’t had a bad day in quite a long time.
You can also visit Jay at jayarmstrongwrites.com