The first time I went skiing was in 1999 with a recreation group in college. It was to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and I was venturesome and fearless. I loved everything about skiing – the atmosphere, the smell of the air after fresh-fallen snow, and how unbelievably exhausting the whole ordeal was. It took me two hours to ski down one green slope (for beginner level skiers), but I didn’t care. I loved it. I recall falling only once.
The second time I skied was the last week of 2006 on Sugar Mountain in North Carolina. Again, I was fearless. Though I used more caution than I did in Steamboat, I still took the slopes with confidence.
Chuck and I were together both times, and both times he left me in the dust with his greater sense of adventure and a need to ski down the blues (intermediate level skiers) and a modest black diamond (really brave skiers) every now and then. That was fine with me because I did not want anyone – him included – waiting for me while I piddled down the mountain at my own slow pace.
Fast forward to today. It’s been four years since I’ve skied but when Chuck suggested we have a go of it in Santa Fe, I thought – sure! I love skiing! I’m a skier. I really enjoy skiing. Why not take a few turns down the mountain while we’re in the neighborhood?
First of all, I fell of the lift.
Second of all, this is what I saw after taking ten minutes to get up and reattach my skis.
Um, really? What you can’t see is that just below this drop off is a sharp left turn down a blue, which frightened me because I’m terrible at skiing in the direction in which I’d like to go. I kinda just go all over until I get stuck – or in the case of today, fall over in fear.
When I finally stirred up enough courage to tackle the first run, I realized quickly that today wasn’t going to go my way. Past the curve of the trail was a fishhook left turn that I inevitably failed to handle. Again, I fell. Though I only had two previous skiing experiences to draw from, I have scads of other events in my life that required physical exertion – six half marathons, one full marathon, canoeing 94 miles on the Rio Grande, hiking 10 miles along the Cumberland Trail in the snow – for Pete’s sake, why can’t I stay on my skis?
And furthermore, why on earth was I so scared?
I finally coaxed Chuck to go on without me, as his watching and waiting was making me anxious and angry. He was doing the chivalrous thing, but I am a stubborn woman and I didn’t want to be hand-held. He asked me, “Are you sure?” about 5,000 times, and it was only after I threatened to stab him with a pole did he finally spin around and ski out of sight.
To make a long story short, I fell three more times, and it was the last time that I took off my skis, pulled them in my arms and walked down the mountain. I was done.
I have no idea why I couldn’t keep my balance, why I couldn’t make my skis go the direction they needed to, or better yet, why I was so scared. By the time I got to the bottom my legs were aching (ski boots aren’t meant for walking downhill, after all) and I had to make myself calm down about what I perceived to be a complete failure. I threw my equipment on the rack and took a seat to wait for Chuck.
About an hour later he was also done and we returned our rentals. On our way out I told Chuck that next time I need to take lessons so I can officially learn how to ski.
“Next time? I didn’t think there’d be a next time,” he said.
“Oh yes. I’m doing this again, but I want proper lessons,” I told him.
All I heard in my head along the walk back to the car was that little voice of wisdom. It was Yoda – Do or do not. There is no try.