Applying Ski Lessons To Life
Wednesday - January 04, 2006
I first learned to ski when I was a freshman in college. The Hawaii Club took a big bus up to Snoqualmie mountain in Washington with about 70 eager snow virgins.
A lesson was mandatory for us beginners to get the hang of things and, in a couple of hours, I felt brave enough to try the bunny slope. I caught on pretty quickly, I think, save one very important technique: I couldn’t figure out how to stop.
I’d get on the lift, go up to the top and shoot straight down to the bottom in under a minute. It’s a good thing I knew how to turn a little so I could coast to a stop where the lift picked me up to take me back up again. If not for that, I easily would have sailed right off the edge of the hill and into the parking lot.
My roommate and I had the same problem. The entire day, we spent most of our time riding the slow lift and then zooming down to the bottom of the bunny hill. We didn’t swoosh, we sped. We went really straight and really fast.
Going too fast is not an uncommon problem, actually. I’m not just talking about snow skills, but about life.
For myself and others I know, jumping into situations too fast has often left emotional scars and regrets that would rival the harshest wind burn on the most frigid day.
Sometimes we jump into things like relationships before we look. We go fast, even if we aren’t sure it’s the best decision in the long term.
We don’t take our time to get to know someone because all we know is that we feel good and we don’t want that feeling to end.
So we jump. Head over heels. Okole over apple cart.
Much of the time, I think it’s because we are afraid to be alone. We like the feeling of a partner, of being a couple, and so we rush to become one so fast we aren’t fully aware of the person with whom we’re entering the partnership.
It can become a habit. But when you’re in the moment, it can be hard to find that perspective. It’s so easy to get caught up.
It takes time to figure out if someone is a good match - time to build a foundation that can withstand all the storms that life brings. If you put up a building too fast, your foundation does-n’t have time to settle and get strong. It has to be strong.
So how do we slow down?
We have to learn.
For me, going fast as I skied felt really good, until I fell. I bounced down the mountain, skis and poles flying. I lay there in the snow for a few minutes, staring up at the sky. My other friends waved as they passed over me on the lift.
I wondered if I should just call it a day.
But another Hawaii Club member stopped by to bring me my poles and skis, which were strewn all over the mountain, and he offered to help me figure out how to slow down.
I learned to swoosh from side to side, which made my ride a little bit more relaxed. I could actually see the trees as I passed them. I also learned to stop, which was good too, so I didn’t have to scream at people frantically to get out of my way as I barreled through.
Of course, there is also the other side to jumping in too fast, which is being afraid of getting hurt. I’ve also been guilty of putting up walls to avoid getting too close to someone.
But then every relationship has its risks, whether you are jumping in too fast or too slowly.
The secret to both things is time.
Take time to plow the snow-covered mountain and to really get to know someone.
Time will also heal heartbreak - those wounds that prevent you from giving yourself fully and might make you miss out on a fantastic person.
Relationships are built on big moments, but they’re also built on small ones.
The daily challenge of living is this: figuring out who you are alone, what’s important to you, what you’re willing to compromise on, what you want for your life.
And then you take the time to find the right partner.
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