Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Reflections from Skiing

With the ski season almost over, I'd like to share some of my experiences and how they are metaphors for life. I've gone skiing at least twice a week every week this season, so I've had lots of great stories. I'll share two of them. 

One day, I was skiing up at Beaver Mountain with my dad, brother, and uncle. We decided do some off-trail skiing through the trees. I am least skilled at tree-runs, but I decided to push myself and do it. My brother learned to ski this season (he's snowboarded his whole life), so I skied behind him in case he crashed and I needed to be the clean-up crew. My dad and uncle are expert skiers, so they made it through the trees much faster than us. Nonetheless, I surprised myself by doing pretty well. When we almost reached the
intersection to the real run, my brother zoomed ahead out of the trees. I could see the trail and I was so
close, but all of a sudden I crashed--into a tree well. In the snow, holes form around trees. Some of these wells can be very shallow, whereas others can be several feet deep. The one that I fell in was probably about two feet deep. Falling in tree wells is a relatively common way for skiers to die because you may not be able to get out and nobody will come along and help you for several hours, if not days. This happens more with backcountry skiing, not resort skiing, but I was worried nonetheless. I tried calling out for my brother, but he was long gone. My skis were stuck straight down in the snow. I couldn't see them or tell if they were still attached to my feet. My legs were
painfully twisted in strange directions, and I didn't have the strength to pull them out of the snow. Because we had been skiing for two days in a row, I was very tired. I simply didn't have the energy to get back up. But I knew my family was waiting for me at the bottom of the run, and besides that I was getting tons of tree sap in my face. I tried pushing myself up with my arms. It didn't work, because the snow was too powdery and thus my arms just sunk deeper in the snow. I tried to move my legs, but they were stuck. Then, I looked up at the pine tree. I grabbed the tallest branch that I could reach, and I slowly was able to pull myself up and untangle my legs. 

In our lives, we often get stuck in holes of mistakes, depression, non-progression, etc. We may be stranded there in pain, with no way to get out on our own. Even if we try to push ourselves out, we may sink deeper into the hole. It is not until we realize that we need to reach for the branches- or God- that we can make it out of the hole. 

Another time, my brother, his friend, and I were skiing at Sundance. We decided to try a double black diamond run (which are the hardest type of run.) As I looked down at the run, I saw the snow was crusty
with ice. There were trees and branches sticking out of the snow. All in all, it looked like treacherous conditions. I warned my brother and his friend that the run would not be good because the snow was terrible, but they told me not to be a wuss and just try it. So, we all started skiing down the run. I was right: the snow was terrible. It was hard to maintain control of the skis. I was getting very frustrated. The bottom of the run was extremely steep. My brother and his friend skied ahead and were waiting for me at the bottom. I crashed, and my ski fell off. It's very difficult to put your ski back on when there is a very steep slope, so I decided to take my other ski off and walk down. I tried to stand up, but then I started slipping down the mountain. Because the snow was so icy, it was very difficult to stop. I looked down my brother. It looked like there was a 30-foot cliff between my and him, and I was starting to fall right off of it. By this time, I was scared and very discouraged. Needless to say, there was excessive weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Every time I tried to move, I slid closer and closer to the cliff. I was hysterical. I thought I had no other option than to wait there forever or to fall off the cliff and get hurt. As I sat there, worried as could be, I heard my brother say, "it's not even that high!" I stopped my fit of panic. I couldn't tell that it was that far, but I trusted that my brother had a better perspective that I did. I noticed that on the edge of the cliff, there were several bushes. I sent my skis down to my brother, and then let myself slide to the bushes. I caught onto the bushes right before I fell off the cliff. And then I looked down. My feet were probably only 4 feet off the ground. So, I let myself slide down the cliff, safely to my brother. 

In life, we  might be traveling through dangerous conditions and get stuck in precarious situations. We might get discouraged and upset and not know what to do. We may look ahead and see that we are about to fall off a cliff. All may look frightful and intimidating, and we may become distraught. But there is One that can see our situation from a different perspective, and offer us the reassurance that it's not so bad after all. We then have to take the leap of faith to trust in God's perception. If we can exert the faith (the faith to fall to the bushes), we will make it out of the crisis safe and sound. 

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