5 Lessons in Self Awareness and Why It Is Absolutely Okay Not To Ski

There are times in life when you find yourself just going through your day without any self awareness.  With so many demands for your attention it can be hard to focus on your participation in daily activities with purpose and to remain fully present  in your choices. I have learned that life gives you the lessons that you need  until you get it.   And when you are self aware you will understand the choices you make will define the outcome.  If you keep doing the same thing you will get the same result.

I don’t ski, in fact I have only skied twice in my life. The first time I was young and fearless, buoyed by my university peers, and new to a country that worshipped winter sports.

There didn’t seem much to it. Just point the skis and let gravity do the rest. I loved watching winter sports on television and the Winter Olympics were amazing.  The speeds and heights that were involved seemed spectacular.

A first year university ski trip was an opportunity to put those television lessons into practise. I thought my summer track outfit would do and after a few tips from a coach on the bunny hill I was ready.  I even managed to get off the ski lift okay.

I was skiing from memory – watching those “crazy canuks” going downhill. I tucked my ski poles under my arms, curled forward and I knew I looked good.  I had the strength in my legs to take the bumps and twists and faster and faster I went.  Halfway down the pro hill, I realized that looking good was maybe not as important as something that I had forgotten to take into account – How to stop.

I seemed to be heading towards a parking lot, and tried to do some quick calculations in my head. Which car would I hit first?  Was there some kind of barrier?  I must have taken a wrong turn.

Luckily I had the agility to tuck and roll and make it look like a slight miscalculation.

Self Awareness

There was a clear view of the hills from the lodge and I knew the “in crowd” was watching everything. In my exuberance of youth I wanted to fit in and to look like I had grown up skiing.  Self awareness had been thrown out the window and been replaced by pride.

Lesson 1.

Know your limits and stick within it.  This does apply to sports where you can hurt yourself very badly. Weigh the pros  and cons of  any actions and whatever the outcome know that you are fully aware.

Fast forward – years later it my son’s elementary school  ski trip.

At the Ski club he is off with his friends and parents are supposed be close by. I try to keep up with him, but always seem to be two steps behind.

There are some ski instructors on the bunny hill for parents and children, and that is where my son is headed. I get my quick reintroduction to skiing as the exuberance of my student days have long gone. Free lessons in moving forward and the “pizza” stop, made me realize how much I had changed since my first ski trip. Another parent showed me a way to stop that was just like a “hockey” stop.  It might as well have been a triple salchow.

By the time I get up the bunny hill to join my son I see the flash of the back of his skis at the bottom heading for the next intermediate hill.

Lesson 2

Take into consideration the time an effort it takes to accomplish goals and don’t feel rushed or pressured into doing something you are not ready to do.

Intermediate Ski Hill

I felt that I should at least join my son on the intermediate hill, even though by this time he was already there. The other parents I had “trained” with were going up the hill too.  The instructor, a semi retiree who boasted about still being able to ski after his hip replacement, decided it would be a good idea if he were to accompany me on the ski lift.  I couldn’t imagine why.

Lesson 3

People have their own fears and anxieties as part of their experience and growth. You have your own. Don’t let the fears of others dictate how you experience the world. You must trust yourself to work through whatever experiences are holding you back from being your authentic self.

I had forgotten what it was like to be on a ski lift, and the hill did not seem so high from the bottom.

When it was time to get off the lift, the instructor must have been over-anxious about my ability to exit the lift. I remember him saying something to me and the next thing I know I am on all fours, and he is sprawled on the snow beside me, as the empty lift chair turned around behind us. He was probably wondering if he would need another hip replacement.

From my vantage point hugging the snow, I could see other people behind me exiting the ski lift and falling forwards, backwards, every which way. The continuous dropping of bodies writhing on the snow was beginning to look like a human centipede and I was at the head of it. Finally the ski lift stopped. I managed to get my skis off so I could stand up. It was carnage on the hill.  People were shaking themselves off on the snow all around me. I knew why I went down but couldn’t figure out why everyone else had gone down. The other problem was that the drop off kiosk was empty so it took a while for the staff to figure out something was wrong and stop the lift.  I moved away from the scene. I was very aware that this was no longer the place for me to be.

Top of the Hill

The only problem with being at the top of a hill is figuring out how to get down in one piece. After the shambles at the ski lift exit the prospect seemed daunting. Could I request a helicopter to take me down? There were people skiing all over the hill.  What was I doing here? The instructor seemed to have disappeared. I was on my own.

Courage My Love

Lesson 4

It is okay to be scared. Embrace it because without fear we would not have courage. As the saying goes, “you have nothing to fear but fear itself.” In my experience it is when we are most afraid that we find the most strength. We have to reach further into who we are as beings with soul. Sometimes we do this consciously and pray for guidance and assistance.

I took a deep breath, lifted my ski poles and pushed. As I whizzed by, not tucking as tightly as I did back in the day  I concentrated on avoiding other people. I learned that the pizza stop does not work all the way down an intermediate ski hill and trying it may injure some very delicate areas of your body.  I survived and lived to tell the tale and share the lessons learned.

Lesson 5

Trust your instincts. These have always served human beings well throughout our existence. In a modern world we tend to find excuses to ignore our “gut” feelings about things we don’t feel comfortable doing. Don’t.

Think about yourself as the most important and precious being that you are.

As for my son – he had a great time that day.

 

If you have a story about a “self  awareness” lesson learned share it with us at EmptyBesters.

J. L. James
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J. L. James

Writer at EmptyBesters
Social Commentator, Original EmptyBester.
J. L. James
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2 thoughts on “5 Lessons in Self Awareness and Why It Is Absolutely Okay Not To Ski

  1. This is good advice! The ski lift story made me smile because that would have been me! But I guess the attitude of the man who was fussing probably MADE you lose what little confidence you had and put falling off into the minds of the people who came behind you as well. When I arrived in Canada it seemed as if it was full of expert skaters and skiers! Coming from a working class background in England, I had never experienced winter sports. So I always felt inadequate sitting on the edge of the lake in summer watching the water skiers having fun and same in winter with skiing friends up at Collingwood and also Nathan Philip’s Square with skating friends. I went to ice rinks and clung to the edges! I really enjoyed this and it’s so spot on about life in general.

    1. Always nice to hear from you Gilly. I think I came from the same working class background where the only thing you did in winter was get inside and stand in front of a heater so you didn’t get chilblains. I had only skated twice in London at the Queensway before I came to Canada. I have tried with the skating, at Nathan Philip’s too and rinks where no knows me, but the fear of falling becomes stronger with age. Thank goodness the ski jump is not a popular sport here, because I would probably have ended up in a cast. Thanks again for sharing.

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