On crystal blue-sky days when the temps are spectator-friendly, I enjoy a visual treat on a lunchtime walk around a pond. (It’s small. I circle twice.) Ducks and toddlers are an irresistible mix. Throw in a few arrogant geese who may be taller than said toddlers and it really gets fun. Little boys in blue jeans and plaid flannel shirts make me miss the little boy at my house who is now a man.

The grass slopes down toward the pond on one side. Many toddlers have not mastered the technique for running downhill toward the ducks that must seem too real to believe in the eyes of a two year old. Usually a parent is reaching to slow the child down, but it’s a vain effort. I’ve lost count of how many little guys I’ve seen tumble on that hill because head and feet did not find a cooperative rhythm.

But you know what? I don’t see them cry. Because the ducks are still there, gliding at water’s edge.

So the toddlers get right up and run again.

Olivia Newport ducks on water

Photo by Lorri Nussbaum www.keeperscards.com

I always feel sympathy when I see small children fall. My daughter is a preschool teacher, and small children falling is just part of her day. She barely moves. (Apparently I wasted a lot of sympathy on her when she was little!) She catches the child’s eye, nods, and says, “You’re all right.” The moment the child might have thought cry-worthy is gone with a sniff or two. Most of the time, the kids are just fine.

We forget how to fall.

Let’s face it, life is a slippery slope, and if we’re running toward the ducks—chasing joy—we’re going to fall. We get rejected. We fall short. We make choices we regret. We give up too easily. We forget what graciousness looks like at just the wrong moment. We get just plain tired.

We fall. But we can get up. And most of the time, the fall turns out not to be a big deal. We persevere. We get past the disappointment. We set a new goal. We regroup.

Keep that in mind as the new year starts, especially if you are setting new goals. Remember how to fall. Get back up. You’re okay. The ducks are still there.

• What helps you get up when you fall?