After feeling like I accomplished a lot during 2013, on New Year’s Day I learned a valuable lesson.
I was with my extended family in Wolf Creek, Colo. on our bi-annual ski trip.
First, let me point out that I’m no novice skier. I had my first lesson when I was three years old and have been skiing every other year since. I’m also no black diamond skier, but I know my way around the slopes and can get on and off a crowded lift without taking out innocent bystanders. I’ve had my fair share of spills and even sprained my thumb during a misadventure several years ago.
I love skiing. I love kicking up a trail of snow as I fly down the mountain, the wind stinging my eyes and whipping my hair behind my back. I love to ski fast… maybe a little too fast.
It was the end of our third and final day on the slopes. My arms were sore from hauling poles and skis and boots up and down the mountain. My ankles and shins were bruised from my ski boots (which were not designed with comfort in mind). But without the necessary equipment, I wouldn’t be able to race down the mountain, powder flying in my wake.
I went up the lift with my dad for what would be my final fun of the trip. We headed down one of our favorite trails, ironically named “Tranquility.” I’d already been down it several times with no problems. But on this particular run, fate decided I needed to take one last tumble.
One second I was heading down a steep slope at break-neck speed. The next thing I knew I was flat on my back, sliding backwards down the hill.
I careened to a stop in the middle of the slope and looked up in time to see my dad ski away, unaware of my plight. I laughed in spite of myself and tried to pull myself up.
Every time I moved, my skis would slide out from under me. After 10 minutes of this it was no longer funny. I did the worst possible thing I could have done in that situation: burst into tears.
I was so embarrassed and shocked by the fact I was crying that I proceeded to weep harder. So much for my mental image of being a tough, seasoned skier.
I truly believe that when you fall, you should get back up and try again. But sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get up without help.
Finally, I succumbed. I took off my skis, walked to the edge of the slope and put them back on. I carefully made my way to the end of the trail where my dad was waiting, skis in hand, preparing to hike back up the mountain to find me.
As I sat in the lodge, alone, nursing my pride with a cappuccino, I experienced a sudden reality check: you’re never too old to fall.
Maybe if I had slowed down and proceeded with a little more caution, I could have prevented my tumble. But I think I needed to learn this lesson. My aching knee still serves as a reminder that I need to think before rushing blindly ahead.
Happy New Year to me.