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Learning When to Fall
What we can learn from ice skating
I used to teach people how to ice skate.
It started when the father of a girl from high school found out I could play hockey. The girl was a year or two ahead of me, but we were both in theatre and we went to the same grade school. We weren’t dating or anything—I was dating one of her best friends at the time—but we knew each other. Her dad was awesome.
Her dad (as I’ll call him to protect his identity) said he teaches special needs kids how to skate on Saturday mornings at Creve Coeur rink and asked if I’d like to join him. So I did.
Over the coming weeks, I learned far more about my own limitations than those kids and their parents learned about skating. This might sound like bragging, but I never learned how to skate. My dad took me to a frozen pond when I was five, and I skated. I didn’t fall. I skated, handled a puck, and loved it.
Sure, I took lessons on certain aspects of skating to become a better hockey player. I learned how to teach those specific skills, but those skills are useless if you don’t know how to stay on your blades around the rink, stop when someone cuts in front of you, or aim your body at the wagon gate so you can exit the ice when you’re tired. I never learned the fundamentals, so I had no idea how to teach them.
In the process of learning how to teach a skill I never learned, I did learn something valuable about skating and everything else: you have to learn when to fall.
I watched one of my adult students take some stitches because another skater lost her balance and tried to stay up against all odds. When you’re trying not to fall on ice, you tend to whip your legs around like a cat-o-nine-tails, flashing veritable razor blades haphazardly in every direction until you finally, mercifully, hit the ice—usually tailbone first.
This woman was kicking her skates at least four feet in the air, unable to catch an edge as she fell backward. One of her blades caught the check of the woman I was pulling around the ice. It was bloody and gruesome.
A week or two later, my student, a child, nicked the neck of another kid the same way. My student started falling and tried to fight it. As he was airborne, the toe of one of his blades scraped the neck of a good skater wizzing by.
That was enough for me.
The following week, I taught my students nothing but the art of falling on ice. I helped them learn that ice is fun to fall on as long as you have enough momentum and you don’t try to fight it. If you’re moving when you fall on ice, you slide. You don’t stick. You don’t stop suddenly, which is the problem with falling on concrete—or falling on ice from a standstill. When you fall on ice, you want to be moving.
We practiced falling and sliding for an hour of the 90-minute session. The kids seemed to enjoy this bizarre class. The adults were much more recalcitrant, but they, too, agreed in the end that knowing how to fall—not being afraid to fall—was a sorely needed lesson. (Especially the woman with the stitches in her cheek.)
The important part of the lesson was learning to recognize when it was too late. And letting go.
America and the Western World need to learn when to fall, too. Like it or not, what we had ain’t coming back. Even if Trump or DeSantis becomes the next president, the America we grew up in is gone forever. We are well beyond the point of no return, and we’re just slicing people’s faces with out blades right now.
We left their kids in public schools too long, respected the advice of doctors too long, trusted the results of elections too long, ignored the trash on TV too long, accepted the decadence of churches too long, kept quiet as HR departments queered the workplace too long, and stared at our pocket computers too long. We are going down, and we damn well better accept that fact while we still have momentum.
In a few short years, the United States will be conquered by a foreign power, embroiled in a decades-long guerrilla civil war, or split into two to five separate countries. We on the right would be best served by the last of these, but the longer we try to hold things together, the more likely the other two scenarios become.
How can I say this?
Well, I’ve been saying this just as boldly since 2020 and more subtly since 2018. I’ve pondered this since at least 2008—the only year I didn’t bother to vote. I became concerned about this possibility in 1985 when I read Suicide of the West, by James Burnham, and Witness, by Whittaker Chambers. You could say I’ve seen this coming all of my adult life.
You wouldn’t know I harbored such ill feelings by the way I lived, though. I sent my kids to public schools, I went to corporate doctors, I bit my tongue in polite company, I lost thousands of hours on golf courses, in bars, and in front of the TV. I nearly memorized the internet in 1998. I wasn’t exactly John the Baptist telling people to prepare ye the way of the Lord.
And, unlike most Americans, I had no claim of ignorance to exonerate myself. I knew what was coming, and I pretended like life was a carnival. I set a bad example for my children, family, friends, and community. Blame me.
But I won’t flail.
When I take action, it’s not to save America but to keep my speed up into the fall. I don’t want to hit the ice at a 90-degree angle. I want to relax into the fall and let the gentle friction of the ice drag me to a slow, safe stop until I can plant my blades and pop up again.
America is going to fall no matter what you or I do.
I just saw a tweet. A mother with kids in public school is livid that her kids were forced to answer a long questionnaires about their sexual orientation, preferred pronouns, and “true” gender. One of the kids is in first grade. At the bottom of the form was a warning to students: you may not remove this questionnaire from the school or discuss the questions with your parents.
Another tweet came from a father who is no longer permitted see his children’s medical records—only to pay their bills. Because his kids are 12 or older.
The fact is, your kids are no longer your kids. They are your children in the divine hierarchy, but not in America. You have no parental rights. It takes a village, and all that.
And your rights as a parent aren’t coming back. Your kids are not coming back. The sun has set on that day.
Thirteen year olds can do whatever they want as long as a teacher, a school counselor, a principal, a doctor, a nurse, a cop, or any other “authority” figure says it’s okay. You will be arrested for objecting. Or, in the case of the father trying to access his daughter’s medical records, arrested for even asking your daughter what the doctor told her. As a parent, you will not win that battle even if you win that battle. If the doctor relents—meaning you can deprive your 13-year-ld daughter of something she really, really wants—you will lose your daughter.
Corrupting the young is the most effective way to destabilize a society, and everyone in the CIA knows it.
This is not to say there will be no happy ending. Imagine how happy we would all be if California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island seceded from the union tomorrow. Happy days would be here again!
Don’t believe me? Subtract all the Senators and Representatives from those states from Congress, and look at who’s left. Subtract their electoral votes from the 2020 election and tell me who’s president.
We are falling. If we try to stay on our skates, we’ll hurt a lot of people before we hurt ourselves. But if we learn when to fall, we’ll glide like hot knives through butter until it’s time to plant our feet and rise again.
Practice falling. God will help you back to your feet every time.