Here are some words of wisdom from my dear friend John. I don’t know what brought this moment back to me, but it did change my perspective on life, the universe, and everything and New Year’s Eve seems like the perfect time to remember.
Back in college, four of us went on a ski weekend to Georgia Bay in Canada. I had never skied before and was nervous. John is pretty much an Olympic class skier and wasn’t and the others in our group were somewhere in between our skill levels.
I stayed on the bunny slope and they all went off to ski various quintuple black tetrahedron runs (no, not really, but I wasn’t leaving the bunny trail so what did I know?).
For those of you who don’t know, skiing in Georgia Bay tends to be icy with perhaps a sprinkle of snow. It’s not the white powder you find in other parts of the world. It’s hard. It’s slippery, and it’ll take you down faster than you can order a hot buttered rum.
I want you to know that I tried. I really tried. But, of course, on my first time down the bunny hill, I fell and twisted my knee. Luckily, it swelled up in such a way that I was able to hold it in the correct position to keep skiing so I kept at it (yes, I was a dumbass and I do know better now). While the others skied where they chose, I became better acquainted with the bunny hill and every single possible place on it to fall, slip, roll, and otherwise land on my butt.
During one of my attempts, John skied toward me. I remember marveling at how much control he had as he slowly skied up. His skis whispered across the ice as he slalomed alongside me. I was fumbling and bumbling and almost falling and had no control of speed, trajectory, or whether or not I was going to pee my pants.
“How’s it going,” he asked as he pulled up beside me.
“I’ve fallen every single time I’ve skied this damn hill,” I grumbled and gainfully held back tears. (To this day, I don’t know if he knew how I upset I was, but we were good enough friends that I could cry in front of him and he wouldn’t have teased me about it, at least not then.)
“That’s good,” he replied.
“Good?” I was shocked. “why is it good?”
“It’s good to fall,” John said as he paced me with utter control of his skis. “I fall a lot when I ski,” he continued.
“You do?” I asked incredulously.
“Yep,” he said. “If you don’t fall when you ski, you aren’t skiing hard enough.”
I am sure he didn’t realize the impact those few words would have on me, but that bit of wisdom has stayed with me. And every single time I go up against a new challenge I remind myself of that simple statement. “If you don’t fall when you ski, you’re not skiing hard enough.”
Words to live by.