It’s been a long time since I’ve really been afraid. Well, I did call the police several months ago because I thought a murder was happening outside my door one night when Mr. Trueheart was out of town. Turned out to be a fox. (If you’ve never heard a fox scream, click the link. Now you get it.) But it’s been a long time since I did anything that has me shaking in naked fear. I do get nervous when I walk into the show ring with my horse, but I’m not terrified.
We recently flew to Aspen to meet up with wonderful friends for a visit. The plan was for all of us to go skiing. OK, I thought, I can just do the easy stuff since I haven’t had a pair of skis on since 1987, and even then I was a total beginner. We rented equipment and I signed up for a lesson.
I showed up for the ski school and I was grouped with some folks I knew were better skiers than me. I was seized by an unexpected but overwhelming terror. I tried to speak up and tell the instructor that I couldn’t stay in this group, but every time I tried to open my mouth, my lower lip started trembling and I almost started crying. Sheer panic was written on my face. Thank goodness that one instructor asked if I wanted to stay in the group. I managed to squeak out that I wanted to be in the tow-rope/bunny-hill/very-beginner group in an unsteady, wavering voice.
Our teacher gave us a very few hints and told us to grab onto the tow rope. I could barely move. I’m 56. I didn’t want to cry. I was paralyzed.
I’ve had bad experiences with skiing lessons. In my early 20’s I went skiing for the first time. I was with my Mom, who loved to ski, and my brother who was a strong, graceful skier. I showed up for my first-ever lesson, and realized I was the only student older than four. One of the teachers took pity on me and gave me a private lesson to save me the humiliation of learning with children. After a few pointers on the bunny slope, he took me up to a blue (intermediate) hill. I couldn’t control my itty-bitty skis and my instructor had to ski backwards while bending forward and holding the tips of my skis together as I leaned over and wrapped my arms around him.
This time – I managed to improve over the course of the morning. After lunch, our instructor told three of us that we were ready to take the chair lift to the top. I skied a long beautiful mile-long run and it was magnificent. In fact, I want to ski next year (if we get snow!!)
The second first that day was snowshoeing. We took a one-hour snowshoe hike to the Pine Creek Cookhouse, a warm rustic spot that felt like a cabin-in-the-woods, for dinner. The scenery was astonishing. I was exhausted, and almost didn’t think I could make it, but I did.
The dinner was wonderful, but the best part was the ride home.
I notice that as I get older, I do fewer and fewer new things or things that scare me. And, it seems more and more things scare me. I don’t leave my comfort zone as often. That’s why I was so proud of myself for skiing, and for snowshoeing. I was petrified, and I was exhausted, but I did them. There’s no better way to feel proud and competent and alive.
In addition, doing new things helps our perception of time slows. When we do new things, it takes our brain longer to process all the information, so it seems that time slows down. This is good news as we age, as time is whizzes by with increasing speed.
I’ll never be a thrill-seeker or daredevil, but I will continue to attempt to slow time by getting scared and trying something new.
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” ~~Kurt Vonnegut.
How about you? What are you doing to develop your wings? XO
Links I hope you will enjoy:
A really good article on the whole plasticity of time.
Great piece on the fruits of passion.
New movies I’m dying to see.
Here’s why it’s quieter when it snows.
Picture books for kids and their grandparents.