Skiing for me is the ultimate metaphor. When I was a young girl and stood at the top of a very steep, rugged slope, I looked down and felt fear. That was a normal and natural feeling that needed to be acknowledged and worked with. Over the many ensuing years, in becoming a very good and confident skier, the fear began to dissipate to the point now where I don’t hesitate and I plunge in knowing I’ll handle well what comes.
This is what I’ve explained to my kids: that the fear is normal and natural; that the elements when you arrive at the top to begin are overwhelming. The bitter, digit-freezing cold, the cutting gusts, the blizzard-like conditions can be enough to make you want to turn back, to go green, to hibernate at the lodge with the masses.
But if you face the slope and start the slope, you commit. And once you start, and give your full attention and effort to each turn which advances you forward, suddenly you’re no longer in the brutality of the lofty top. Now you’re underway, in the middle, on the journey, in the most beautiful, billowing drifts, sculpted waves of snow surrounded by peaking, frosted pines and shyly spying aspens. You are warm and flushed now from the effort, primed to do more. You continue down and reach your goal with the pride of work well done, and you go up again, and again, and again for more, for new, for evolving challenges, because the more you do, the better you get, and the more you want to do.
Skiing is life. It combines the brutal harshness of the external elements with the internal primal reaction of fear to demand that one face the terror to reach the power and pulchritude of the middle, and the accomplished formation at the end. Skiing is unique in how it can terrify on so many levels, on what it demands physically to navigate the topography of inhospitable slopes. It is the ultimate challenge, asking us to be the temerarious adventurers in our own lives, not renouncing for a minute, never backing off for the wrong reasons. When you ski and ski well, you accept the challenge of the mountain, you accept that no fear will dictate or dominate your course. Skiing is a poem for existence.