For years now, I have been known to wax poetic about how much I love and miss playing in the snow — specifically skiing in it. Last year I publicly pleaded for comrades to “slide down something!” with me.
So when a good friend invited Julie and me to spend the long Presidents’ Day weekend at his sister’s house on the mountain in Killington, Vermont, we were in. And for the first time in my life that I can recall, I was afraid to have fun. I was afraid to ski.
For Julie it was a “no-brainer.” She’s never skied, and in her words, “has no balance of power,” and “has been known to topple simply standing on skis.” She’d be happy to “head for in for a bloody.”
For me, I’ve been a skier for most of my life (often with a bloody before, during and after).
But I haven’t skied in eight years. And the last time I slid (and ran through, and jumped into, and rolled around in mud) , my madcap self was shut down by a back injury that incapacitated me for almost three months. And my eyes were opened by a recovery period that humbled me for the rest of my life.
This weekend was the first test of my mettle. Therefore, I wanted to forget all that I learned and wrote about — the wisdom that sprouts during the recovery from a devastating injury. That “intellectual renewal” that can emerge from “physical pain.” I was contemplating ignoring “the gift of aging,” including the pronouncement that “fear can serve to gather perspective – quickly.” It can offer “…levelheadedness … a re-routing … a savvier path.”
Instead, I wanted to pretend that careening down a wind-swept, icy incline while buckled into two laminated slats would not be foolish for a 60 year old with an iffy back who hasn’t slid down anything snowy in eight years. I wanted the older me to be the old me — sometimes cautious, sometimes reckless, but always game.
The deadline-driven decision as to whether or not I should hit the slopes locked me into a tortuous head game for days. (As my friend noted — women forced to make a major life decision such as whether or not to have a child, probably spend less time deciding than I did on whether or not I should ski.)
If I skied and fell, re-injury was a possibility. If I skied and didn’t fall, redemption was a possibility. If I didn’t ski, and ultimately didn’t fall, a snowball effect was certain: “the gift of aging … intellectual renewal … perspective … levelheadedness … a re-routing.”
So, I opted out. And, along with my good friends, slid down a “savvier path.”
We went tubing. In record-cold wind chills and wind. Two 50-somethings, and one 60 year old careening and twirling down the hill amidst teenagers and youngsters (some with parents younger than us who simply pushed their kids down).
So — trading an icy ski slope for an icy tube hill? Smarter. Levelheaded. Older and wiser. So much fun! And brave.