Embracing the Discomfort: Skiiing Edition

Monday, May 27, 2024

In February 2021, a friend took us skiing for the first time. In the excitement of the opportunity, I severely under-estimated the difficulty of skiing, especially for someone who had never skated before (on land or ice). We went straight to the lift, up the mountain, and down the slope. And I fell. A lot. But that was also the day I decided I wanted to learn to ski and that I would be back. Someday.

In February 2023, watching adults and kids skiiing in a small town in Austria, as normally as walking, was a reminder of the joys of this winter sport. They were easygoing, relaxed and happy. It was just another Wednesday for them and they were skiing to get to the cafe, to buy groceries and just spend time with each other. It was a reminder of the sport I wanted to learn, and the normalcy of it all. It wasn’t so hard: It just required learning and practice.

And so this past ski season, I decided to take lessons. Finally. The first few lessons were rough. I fell a lot, and I got up each time. But I felt like I was learning. Albeit, slowly (or atleast slower than I’d like). I had to accept not having control directly on my feet, but rely on how my feet in skis felt on the snow. It was a few layers disconnected for me to feel immediately comfortable. Every time on the mountain was a new experience with different skis, snow, weather conditions and people traffic and most of all an evolving skill level; all of which brought its own set of learning. It took patience and strength to embrace the discomfort, while I was mentally drained and physically exhausted, to keep going and try that one more time, do that one extra run and try to fix the one thing I was trying to on any given day.

It took a few weeks to get used to being on the snow, and once I did, the reward of being able to ski while staring at snow-clad granite peaks of the Sierras, around the powdery pines and zig-zagging trails was a rewarding experience to cap off the season. I can’t wait for the 2024-25 ski season to start. I’ll likely fall a bunch, but I know I will get better if I keep at it. Slowly, steadily, eventually.