Never Want to Play it Safe

For quite awhile, I’ve been romanticizing an idyllic, symbolic winter scene of snow covered ground, towering conifers and a brisk wind to chill my cheeks. Reminds  me of an autonomous vibe focused on physical fortitude and endurance.

Since I was ten, we took week-long, yearly ski vacations. Beginning at June Mountain with a Christian Science church group, I remember cinnamon rolls, numb toes and hell bent in the “french fry” position screaming down the mountain. It wasn’t until the third year, in Breckenridge that I got the hang of turning and enjoyed skiing even in subfreezing temperatures and white outs.  The most epic year was powdered slopes at Mammoth Mountain when the extended family rented a condo off chair 15. From final run to the steamy Jacuzzi took less than half an hour. One evening it snowed while we soaked in the warm bubbly water.

I discovered spring skiing with friends at Snow Summit, where we skied throughout the season for years, when speed and looking good mattered. Then  one year my sister Julia worked at Northstar and the sister resort in New Zealand. After that, she could streak passed me, graceful as a gazelle with her skis an inch apart. I suspect my competitiveness balked at being outshone by my younger sister. Then my ex didn’t like skiing, so I stopped going yearly, often using money as the excuse. Bah!

After four years abstinence, I decided it was time to take the boys skiing again. We stocked up on missing gear at REI’s winter clearance and found a rental local shop (Phil’s). I didn’t know my ski size.

“Pretend like we’ve done this before,” Kobe chuckled as we clunked in our boots up to the window to get out lift tickets. No kidding.

The day was a warm 60 degrees and the lines short.  I forgot about the amazing view of Bear Lake’s crystal waters from the lift and on the slopes. Our favorite chair was a quad lift that let us review each run. Both boys began the day with their arms crooked ready to catch their fall, but improved after lunch.  I began the day sliding my hips from side to side, rather gracefully if I do say so. Gaining confidence, I attempted jumps and diamond runs without a hitch.

Finally on the final run, I fell, trying simultaneously for grace, speed and parallel skis. I was thrilled as one ski dislodged on impact, my pole went flying and I skidded downhill about 30 feet.

As I learned to love skiing, it had always been my policy that if I didn’t fall, I wasn’t pushing myself to the limit. I never want to play it safe, but from time to time, judge myself too harshly as those around me improve or move on. Falling reminds me that I am intensely alive and willing to look fear straight on and go for it anyway.

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