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One Run And The Fear Was Gone? -- Ski Rex Says...


“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
― from Frank Herbert's book, Dune.

It's been about six days since my visit to Big SNOW American Dream, which was not only my first visit to the facility but my first time back on skis in about five or six years. I can tell you that just the thought of being back on skis after such a long time terrified me, and it only got worse the closer we got to the mall.

Now, I'm not talking about being afraid of COVID-19, though that was very much on our minds, as well. Believe me, we were going into a large, public building around a ton of other people. While that was on my mind, it was the thought of taking that first run the freaked me out more than anything.

Though my friend and I were deep into many conversations for the drive down from Vermont, which was about 4 hours from his house, it was still very much a thought for me. As with anyone, if there is something that can take one's mind off their fear, then that can only help. However, even though I was talking non-stop with my best friend of almost 30 years, and most of that talking was funny as heck to us, I couldn't get it out of my head.

What was that fear? I was afraid that I might get hurt and what I might look like while doing it. It was also the fear that I lost all of my ability and wouldn't be able to get it back. Skiing was such a big part of my life for such a long time that it would have sucked if I couldn't do it anymore. It would've been made even worse if, as I said first, I were to get hurt or worse. Think about how anyone could feel, knowing that there was a point in their life that this type of slope would not have bothered them, and then ending up getting carried away in an ambulance.

These were the things running through my mind as we approached the mall, then the front door of Big SNOW, then the locker room, and finally got into the lift line, which was also a bit of a fear for me. While I have been on many chairlifts in my day, could I still get on and off one without getting myself or someone else hurt? Then could I continue to do it consistently?

Side story, it was a thought like that which kept me away from the Poma lift they have at Big SNOW. We all know that I had a lot of trouble with one of those once and I haven't been able to let it go. So, I just avoided that lift for this trip.

Anyway, we got up and off the lift with little issue. Sure, we knocked off of each other a little bit and we had to learn to negotiate the wall at the top, but it really wasn't a big deal. One would think that would be enough to raise a person's confidence and get them over any kind of fear or anxiety they might be having. It wasn't enough for me.

I slid over to the edge of the slope and looked down, just surveying what was in front of me. I knew this was like a blue trail on a traditional slope, but it felt like so much more before I even tried it.

I would like to say "I did the only thing I could do and sent myself down the slope." Let's be honest, though. I could have thrown in the towel and gotten the place to let me download or popped my skis off and walked myself down the slope, inch by inch, and hugging the wall. I had options. In this case, I decided to take the option of actually skiing. 

And that was it...the fear was gone.

As odd as it sounds, or maybe not, after I completed that one run I wasn't afraid anymore. Did I have real confidence in my abilities? Not really, but that will come with practice, just like anyone else at any time during their skiing or snowboarding life. But, am I afraid to take those runs so I can rebuild that confidence and my abilities?  No, I'm not.

It really is a testament to the idea of "It's just like riding a bike."

I really didn't forget how to do it, I just have to practice to be able to do it better, again. I didn't get hurt or hurt anyone else. I didn't even fall once that day. All in all, I got myself worked up over nothing. 

In the end, I'm not really sure what the point of this story is, but that's what I do. I tell stories. Maybe one takeaway is that people should face their fears to the best of their abilities when they are able. Another could be that one should always have faith in themself. For me, it's the thought that maybe I'm not really that far gone. That skiing and snow sports are still as big a part of me as they always were, even without the ability. 

I guess we'll have to wait and see as the season continues. 

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