Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Life lessons

Dear sisters,
My recent mini-skiing trip to the Swiss Alps gave me some important insights into myself.
The first insight is that I am probably not the best to have around in acute, time-sensitive, crisis situations. This can be demonstrated by the following example.
On our way back from Switzerland, I stepped out of the train at Amsterdam Central Station and left my suitcase on the train. It  was stored in the handy opening between the seats, asking to be forgotten. Chatting merrily, halfway down the escalator, I realized my mistake. Adrenaline rushing and hyper-ventilating, my first reaction was to shout “my suitcase!,” throw my arms in the air and like a crazy woman start running up the escalator in the wrong direction.

My travel partner gracefully followed me (with her suitcase in hand).
The escalator was crowded, so we received insults like “you f&**ing lunatics”, but the train was about to leave the station at any moment, so I didn’t care.  However, I could not get past the people shouting at us, as they did not care to budge, so I soon had to admit defeat and let myself slide down to the station floor, before I could run up the other side. By this time, a wave of sniggers followed in my trail.
Once on the platform again, I darted into the train but could not find my suitcase. I rushed out and into the next compartment, and into the next; no suitcase. Bored passengers appreciated the action I was providing, but time was running out. I was considering whether I should let myself be transported to Amersfoort or jump out and leave the suitcase in the train.
The burgundy-haired-conductor strolled up in her regulation pants and said; “Relax, Mrs”. She even smirked, if I recall correctly. She said she would wait until we had found the suitcase, (thereby deflating all previous action on my part).
Only then could I take a deep breath and remember that the doors of our compartment had a picture of a wheelchair on them. I found the compartment, walked in and there the suitcase was, between the chairs, waiting patiently for retrieval. Easy-peasy.

My second insight, which is a little more reassuring, is that I have  developed the ability to control old fears merely by deciding to.
Two years ago when my husband and I decided to go back to skiing, I made a conscious decision to accept being no more than a moderate, fine-weather skier, thereby relinquishing any pressure to 1), go out when it snows, 2) attempt black slopes for fun, 3) go faster than I go.
On our second day on the slopes my dear friend (skiing since she could walk) - took us on an alternative route home. “A basic red with a few moguls, no problem” she said, waving away our concerns.  I found myself disagreeing with her, when I stood at the top of a precipice looking down onto a bumpy wall.  
Skiers similar to me were already stranded on the outer rim of the slope, their ski’s buried in deep snow, distorted faces staring into the depth and their bottoms stuck out behind them, as they tried to push themselves back into position. Others lay on the mountain halfway down, looking up, trying to locate that pole lost during their fall. It was a battlefield.
And when I took the plunge over the edge, bouncing at high speed along the top of the moguls, wondering just where to make that turn, a familiar feeling of cold sweat and wild panic came over me. And I, too, finally, came to an uncontrolled halt somewhere on the edge.
But now I was twenty years older than the last time I found myself in this situation, I  have two children who still think I am fearless, and the idea I might have to be talked down the mountain was too much to bear.
So,  I decided, once I moved again (deep breath),  to just keep going, no stopping, no hesitating at the turns, knowing this too would pass (that is life experience for you). It worked. No prizes to be won, I held myself in rigid discomfort all the way down, but it did feel like a small victory when I got to the schuss run within minutes, with no stopping or falling. Mind control, baby!
It is now just a question of applying this power to more relevant areas of my life.

In the meantime, back home, the dog is taking me to places I otherwise would not venture. I provide you with  images in this post.

Sisters, I know you are out there! Talk to me.

With love S1

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great Post!
xox M.