Our first balance challenge comes when we try to move from hands and knees to walking upright. While an essential skill, it doesn’t come easily, and we land on our behinds frequently trying to figure it out. After that we try running, usually before we are quite successful at stopping, and often fall forward when we try to stop.
Eventually balance on two feet becomes second nature, so we learn to balance on various devices. Bicycles challenge us to remain upright while moving our feet in circles. Roller skates demand that we align two sets of wheels and move only forward, while trying to avoid doing the splits. Ice skates further try our balancing patience trying to glide on two long metal pieces. We rush down ski slopes on two wooden boards. Then we walk over creeks on logs, balance on railroad tracks, and teeter on the tops of walls. We have achieved an amazing array of balancing skills with some patience and perseverance.
And then one day late in life we find that something has gone awry. A skill we took for granted–balancing–seems as challenging as it did years ago. We use handrails going down stairs, after wondering for years what they were for. We accept a hand on slippery surfaces. We begin to think about broken bones when we consider ice skating and roller skating. Our bravado about balancing seems to have evaporated.
Fortunately, as I wrote a few months ago, there are exercises such as balancing on one foot while brushing our teeth, that restore balance. While I wish I could take balance for granted as I did for so many years, I now concentrate on maintaining it. It’s a lot farther to the ground if I fall now!