After Christmas, my husband and I went skiing for a couple of days in the Poconos. It was our first ski trip in 7 years, so as you might expect, we didn’t instantly have our ski legs back. In fact, as we approached the ski lift on our first time up, we were rather unceremoniously knocked to the ground when we mistimed the lift’s arrival. Well, I think I mistimed it, moved forward too soon, and consequently knocked my husband to the ground, as well. The guy working the lift made the rather unhelpful comment, “You’ve got to watch where you’re going.”
In spite of a rocky start, it was a wonderful chance to recharge our batteries, now that the flurry of entertaining and being entertained was over, not to mention all of the Christmastime singing and playing that comes with being musicians (6 times over 5 days)! The Victorian-style B&B with a step-up bathtub didn’t hurt, either. When else do I take candlelit baths?
However, I was reminded that the gifts didn’t only come when things went smoothly–when I glided down the slopes as if I had been on skis since the age of 4, like quite a few kids we saw on our trip. The gifts also came from that small opening when things didn’t quite go according to plan, and in the ability to choose my response.
My other notable fall was one I’m proud of. On our second day of skiing, Kevin and I were feeling pretty confident. We had navigated all but two slopes, including several black diamonds. We were exhilarated. Kevin was mostly in charge of keeping track of which slopes we had skiied (I attribute it to his Master’s of Library Science degree) and shared that we hadn’t tried Mohawk, so we glided over to check it out.
It was starting to get dark. The sky was a beautiful, deep blue. We looked over the edge of the cliff. It was steep. It had moguls. Kevin asked, “what do you think?” I knew if I thought too much about it, I’d lose my nerve, so I said, “I’m going down,” and off I went.
I didn’t last more than 10 seconds before tumbling over a mogul (not knowing the trick was to go AROUND it), losing a ski several feet up the slope from where I landed in the process. No twisted ankles, only bruised pride, as other skiiers could see me from the lift above as I fumbled uphill towards my ski.
Yet I knew even in that moment this was a win. I had ventured something difficult, and was still alive to celebrate that fact. My fear had not held me back, and the stakes were not really that high. (If I had feared veering into the woods, I wouldn’t have attempted it–or would have at least considered wearing a helmet!)
How many times do we not try something because we imagine it will be too hard or we’re afraid the results will be messy, imperfect? Yet there I was, on mogul-riddled Mohawk, the sky growing ever darker, not too proud to accept help from a more experienced skiier who stopped to retrieve my ski. He helped me reattach it, each of us clumsily balancing with our poles on the steep pitch of the mountain, then off we went our separate ways. While I did feel slight embarrassment, I focused on my pleasure at making it down the mountain without another fall, and my gratitude for my own bravery and daring. Not recklessness–but willingness to risk results that were uncertain, messy, an imperfect and fun adventure.
Daring in Webster’s:
1: willing to do dangerous or difficult things
2: showing a lack of fear
I think “showing” is a key word. Acting in spite of fear, not letting it dictate one’s actions.
When have you acted in spite of your fears? I’d love to read your comments!