I am standing at the top, looking over the side. Pouring rain and strong winds made the water and snow pellets hit my face so hard I thought this was Mother Nature’s cruel way of giving me a free facial. Visibility had dropped to the point where I could barely make out what the terrain was like at my feet.
I remember what it was like last time.
I can’t do this.
Two years ago I stood atop of the same beginner’s run and tried to remember what it was like to ski. That time, I had stumbled and slid my way down to the bottom. I was a tiny bit humiliated and lot defeated: whatever skiing abilities I had learned in my youth seemed to have vanished.
Two years later I was back with a friend to ski on the same mountain. I had been brave for the entire journey: splurging on a season pass, racing to obtain my rental gear, and testing out my old ski legs on the bunny slope. But as I stood over the side and looked down into the foggy abyss, doubt crept into my mind. Would I slip and slide my way down to the bottom again?
Having my friend there really pushed me; I knew I would feel extremely bad if my doubts held us back. Sucking in a breath, I pushed off on my skis.
I was sliding all over the place! I was doing the beginner’s fallback of using nothing but the snowplow! It was that hated combination of snow/ice that gave me visions of seeing myself cartwheel down the side of the mountain with the full knowledge that I am no longer as elastic as my younger self. I skidded to a stop and dug my poles into the hard snow. I was still upright, that was a miracle.
I had no idea where I was in the run; it was too foggy to see the top or the bottom. I was pretty sure the bottom of the run was a long, long, LONG, ways off.
I can’t tell you what made me disregard most of my fear. The only way I could sum up how I felt; I suddenly made the very conscious effort to try trusting.
Trusting my (rental) equipment: Remember when I said two years ago I slipped and slid my way down to the bottom of the run? Back then I had measured my own shoe size (incorrectly) and didn’t have the confidence to go back to the shoe shop and sit there until I found a pair that fit me better. This time around, I ensured I found a pair that fit. This time around, I knew I could trust my equipment to do what I needed them to do, when I needed them to do it.
Trust in my knowledge: I had spent several winters of my childhood learning how to ski on this very same mountain. I had probably skied this very same run hundreds of times before. After my first run I knew the terrain had not changed since the days of my youth; I could almost predict when I would be coming across the steeper and shallower sections.
Trust in my abilities: This was the biggest one for me. I began to trust in my abilities; I had spent many winters learning how to ski as a kid, surely some of those abilities would still be there in my adulthood. I told myself to relax, to push myself into my reckless zone (still extremely conservative by most standards) and trust I had the skill to handle that step forward. I didn’t do the snowplow (nearly as much) and I almost laughed out loud with glee when I realized I was giving my skis the freedom to do what they wanted to do on the snow, and yet I was still comfortably in control!
Despite the fact the downpour broke the limits of my “waterproof” gear, despite the fact I almost did slip and fall once on the run and another time when my heavy ski boots slipped on a puddle in the cafeteria, I found a new sense of excitement. I was falling in love with skiing all over again.
I can already hear the mountain calling for me to come back.