As I looked downward…

…suddenly fear froze me.

This has happened repeatedly for the last 25 years. Ever since I first tried on skis (and the few years that I tried snowboarding). It has plagued me in nearly any physical sport. Cycling. Volleyball. Baseball. Soccer. Football. Swimming.

A few months ago, I accompanied friend with their 16 month old son for a day trip to Marin County. I asked casually what they spotted about their son, about how his personality is developing. “He’s very cautious. In comparison to other kids when he’s playing.”

Was I like that too? Afraid to step out of my comfort zone? Afraid to bend or break the boundaries to test the water? I have always blamed my social anxiety for the inability to perform, the desire that I had burning inside me. But this physical thing? I am not quite sure where it came from either. Did extreme caution come genetically? That I felt so safe, secured…that I was willing to sacrifice adventure and joy in order to be comfortable and safe?

Yet almost every year, I go to Tahoe. At first, it was my parents’ urging. I went every year. Always ending in tears when I tried to ski. It would happen in the rentals, trying on the boots, not quite grasping how to get my foot in and out. it would happen on the slopes, the bunny slopes with the instructor as I was the only one falling, the only one that didn’t quite understand “lean left, then lean right”. What does that even mean? Then my only defense came into play—the tantrums of not being able to listen, sulking as I was the one that failed over and over again.

Yet what’s amazing is that I have recognized it. So in the last few years, I improved in skiing, trusting that I can turn. I can really turn. I would do an intermediate a blue square trail. But then suddenly if I peer down and analyze, I am paralyzed. I see the skiers and snowboarders around me, whizzing down so effortlessly. The snow flies up as they move, like a ball moving down. No fear at all. I am jealous as I stand there frozen. Ironically, I always feel very hot then. My hands sweating. My body uncomfortable in the ski jacket. My foreshadow shining, bursting from my knit cap.

Sometimes the best thing to do is close my eyes and stop looking.

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