I went skiing for the first time last week.
Now, before you start rolling your eyes at me, this is not one of those “fall 7 times, get up 8” or “practice makes perfect” blogs. These falls taught me something different.
See, I understood that when most people go skiing for the first time that they fall. So by the time I was at the top of my first bunny slope, I was prepared for falling. I was prepared for falling a lot – for falling hard, for falling awkwardly, for even falling in ways nobody has ever thought to fall before! I was ready for that. I was ready for that part of the learning process.
The funny thing, though, was I didn’t fall that much. Not on the bunny slopes, anyway. I mean, of course I fell a few times. But nothing significant. I even moved up to the green (more difficult) runs relatively quickly. That’s where my real learning began.
On Green Run #1, I was terrified. I don’t even like going down a hill fast on a bike! And here I was, speeding down the side of a mountain on two oversized toothpicks. As I flew down the mountain, my head was a slur of 4-letter expletives and a single, long syllable: “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
I didn’t fall on that run at all. My heart-rate spiked, my body started shaking, and by the end of the run, I was so dizzy from fear I had to sit down for an hour. But I didn’t fall.
Green Run #2: this was the big one. My goal was to slow it down – to slow myself down by skiing perpendicular to the run as much as possible. This… is where I fell the most. I fell and slipped under the ski lift (which is super dangerous, btw, I do not recommend). Twice. I ate it in the middle of the run. I lost a ski. I lost the other ski. I lost the first ski again. I did some combination of a tumble and somersault down a portion of the mountain.
By the time I was finally at the bottom, there was a long line for the lift back up. I was able to have some space to think as I shimmied my way through the line. I was surprised that I wasn’t upset about any fall. I wasn’t judging myself. I wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed in any way. But something was wrong. Something was off.
On the ski lift, on the way to my Green Run #3, I figured out what my deal was.
I was afraid of going fast. Not because I was in some way scared of hurting myself, though. No, if that were the case, I would have super-freaked when my ankle twisted in Green Run #2. No. I was afraid of hurting everybody else on that mountain. I was afraid of crashing into people. I was afraid of breaking them. I was afraid that people would die because of me. So my falling, putting myself in jeopardy, being unsafe – it was all fine. As long as nobody else got hurt.
As I sat on that lift riding up to Green Run #3, I also realized that particular fear wasn’t unique to skiing. I realized that I held myself back or would slow myself down in a lot of ways all in the name of protecting other people. So at the beginning of Green Run #3, I stood at the top of the mountain staring down at all the people skiing/snowboarding down for probably 5 minutes in self-talk mode.
“You didn’t hurt anyone on Green Run #1, Christina. They’re ok. You’re ok. You can weave around these people. See the idea of accidentally killing them leave your head – it’s not helping you.” … “Are you ready?”
“Are you ready?”
“Are you ready?”
“Ok.” *lift off*
“F*#K, I’m scared!”
“But you’re ready. Keep going…”
And I did.
And I didn’t fall.
My hope for you, love, is that the only person you pause for in the future is yourself. I hope you trust yourself enough to take the path that’s true for you at the pace that keeps you safe — even if you get scared along the way.
Blog written with love by Christina Dunlap. Inspired by her work at Boulder Psychic Institute, Christina paints what she sees in her readings and healings on canvas. “Like” her on Facebook to stay up-to-date with pretty art & perspective-shifting insights.