January 26, 2009

Winter Lessons

It is Sunday, mid-morning and I have just flown down Oli’s Alley, smiling all the way, but knowing full well that with this rapid decent comes a long, sustained climb back out. The first time I skied this loop, I gasped for air and longed for the top; but now it is different.
I have learned how to skate, how to glide, how to transfer my weight and how to control my breath. Skating is no longer a thing I have to do, but something I love to do. A long Sunday morning skate has taken the place of my long runs this winter season. The change is welcome, surprising, and wonderful. The trails are quiet, at least the lower sections; I pass just few people as I climb out of the Alley and see no one on Leslie’s. A light snow is falling; it is perfectly quiet, except of course, for the distant throttle of the snowmobiles. I have by means mastered the sport of skate skiing, but I have learned enough to enjoy and share this with others.
This winter has been a great learning experience for me. I have embraced the snow. I love to telemark, I love to skate, and I am thoroughly enjoying teaching.
Teaching skate ski lessons at the Nordic Center on Saturday mornings has been a great break from the norm. I am helping people develop the skills and muscle memory that will allow them to enjoy the snow covered forest in a way I, too, am only just discovering. I am connecting with people; helping them over come their hesitations and challenge themselves in new ways. Seeing the improvement in my students is incredibly rewarding and I reason I continue to work to improve in my teaching methods, drills, and movement analysis.
As an adult, learning new things is difficult, especially new things with a steep learning curve. I feel silly, foolish and compare myself to the twelve year old who mastered the skill 3 years ago and I can only hope to catch. But, when I am able to get over my insecurities and fear of failure and simply launch into the learning process, the rewards are overwhelming.
As adults we tend to do what we are good at, repeatedly, without introducing new challenges and the excitement that comes along. This monotony becomes exhausting after a while, slowing us down and letting us become complacent. Resist this normal and very natural life, branch out, work to further develop your current interests, embark on new pursuits and step out of the comfort zone, only then will we discover of what we are truly capable.