This past weekend I went skiing up at June Mountain with some friends. Now, I don’t really consider myself a skier by any stretch of the imagination. In fact I can count on one hand the number of times I have been skiing. I am not a good skier, but I am really like going. I am sometimes envious of people who wear cool snowboarding clothes and effortlessly twist, turn and glide their way down the mountain. I on the other hand tend to 1) either coast down the mountain at a relatively slow pace (which gets kinda boring) or 2) fly down the slope at full speed with absolutely no ability to stop myself (which often results in falling face down in the snow). I am still looking forward to one day finding the perfect balance somewhere in between.
By about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and a full day of skiing (and falling) I was exhausted. We had taken the chair lift to the top of the mountain and I had just gone down thee steepest blue slope I had ever been on (I swear it was mislabeled, because it felt like a black diamond to me). I fell three times and literally just sat on the edge of the run at one point and debated “Do I stand up and try again or just slide down on my butt?” Don’t worry, I opted for the former and made it down, but it was one of those runs where you had to take a chair lift back down to the other side and then ski back to the lodge. I wanted nothing more than to just sit down and give my jello-like legs a break. My friend and I scooted up to the line to catch the lift, but somehow before I was quite ready the chair swept around with a huge pole in between the two seats. Obviously, the goal is for each person to sit on either side of the pole. Well, I don’t know exactly what happened…I think I was too far to the right, maybe? All I know is that when I reached around and turned to grab the pole, it just hit me right across the backside and I missed the seat all together. So now, the chair lift is going up, and I am hanging onto the pole with my right hand and trying desperately to grab the hand rail with my left and determined not to let go! It didn’t work. I tried to hang on, but once we were a good four feet up in the air. I just couldn’t. I let go and landed face down in the snow. Cold. Embarrassed. And Laughing.
I just fell off a chair lift!
Who does that? That’s the kind of things you see in a youtube video, but doesn’t happen to real people. The workers stopped the lift and ran over to help me. I am sure they were only half-heartedly concerned because they were laughing too. At this point I couldn’t even get up. With twisted skis and flailing poles, I tried to stand up as gracefully as one can after you fall from a chair lift. With everyone in line behind me watching and everyone on the chair lift looking back to see why it stopped, I cautiously and begrudgingly hopped onto the next chair and made my way down the mountain in what felt like the longest chair ride of my life. But I can laugh about those kind of things. I think you have to! And maybe there is something to be learned in the falling down.
On the way home I sat in the car with that good kind of dull, aching pain. My muscles were sore. Parts of my body hurt that I didn’t even know existed. I realized somewhere between Bishop and the long stretch of desert along Highway 14 that I don’t fall very much. And I mean that both metaphorically and literally. I just don’t fall down that often. I sometimes live life cautiously and carefully. I work hard to gracefully keep things together and not mess up. I spent so much of my high school and college years trying to “have it together” that I think I missed out on the joy of trying new things and learning to get back up when I fall down. There is something so precious and beautiful, and albeit, a little humbling about falling down, messing up and admitting that I can’t do it. I am learning to trust and find hope in knowing that when I get knocked down, I’ll get up again.