Whether you call it graduation or commencement, spring is the time when we celebrate milestones reached by our children and young adults.
Having recently attended a high school graduation, I found myself thinking about what I would say if ever called upon to inspire group of talented young people. This little bit of daydreaming resulted in today’s post.
I’d appreciate your reactions, responses and suggestions.
Six Lessons Skiing Teaches Us
1. The Importance of Challenge
Whether you learn to ski as a three-year old, or learn to ski as a forty year-old, taking up snowsports is a worthy challenge. Sliding on snow is not a natural skill for bipedal human beings. Nor is enjoying subzero weather when the snow is blowing and the wind is howling.
Yet from the moment we click into skis or strap on a snowboard, we are in a state of challenge. We learn the fundamentals of the sport. Then we learn to progress. We learn how to stay warm in all sorts of weather, sometimes through trial and error. We learn to push ourselves toward new challenges.
Just as the snow conditions are perpetually changing, so are our skills, and the challenges we set for ourselves should also be dynamic. Not just on snow, but it life. The challenge is what keeps things interesting.
2. The Importance of Persistence
From the first turn until the last, skiing teaches us to persist and never be complacent. The best skiers in the world constantly pursue improvement. So can we. We can persist in our goal of excellence. We can persist in our pursuit of delight, thrill and enjoyment on snow.
Snowsports teach us to set goals and work to meet them. Through persistence we learn that our hard work pays off big time.
3. The Importance of Prudence
As skiers and snowboarders we have to accept our vulnerability. If we push ourselves too far, too fast, we can get hurt. If we don’t follow common-sense rules, we can get hurt. If we take risks that are foolhardy, we can get hurt.
In actuality, the rate of serious injury among skiers and snowboarders is quite low, and in many cases, this is because of prudent behavior. This doesn’t mean being cautious or holding back. It doesn’t mean circumventing fun or limiting one another.
Instead, prudence means taking a clear-eyed look at the risks and rewards of skiing and snowboarding (and everything else) and then acting in an informed, wise manner.
4. The Importance of Mindfulness
Daydreaming and skiing are a bad combination for me. When I fall, it’s usually because my mind is elsewhere.
Think about the times when you’ve skied at your highest ability. What were you thinking about? Or were you even thinking?
I find my skiing sweet spot when my eyes focus forward, my body aims downhill and my mind engages in the current moment without reservation or judgment.
All minds wander. If you’ve ever tried meditating, you know this. But when we’re skiing and focused only on skiing, feeling the turn we’re making rather than thinking about that turn (or what to eat for lunch), that’s when nirvana strikes.
And that’s what keeps us coming back, winter after winter, for more.
5. The Importance of Friends and Family
As much as I love skiing, I don’t really love skiing alone. But skiing with friends and family? There’s nothing better.
I know from experience that it’s hard to prioritize time with friends and family. Each day we have deadlines, jobs, obligations, chores and the like vying for our attention and time.
Sometimes we take our friends and family for granted. It seems like they will always be with us and we can always postpone time with them until “tomorrow.” As the tomorrows stack up and flow past, the endless obligations continue. Our friends and family get put off with promises for the future.
As mentioned above, I recently attended my son’s high school graduation. If you’re a parent with young children, high school graduation can seem impossibly far away.
I’m not going to tell you that the time with children “flies by” or “goes quickly.” I don’t think it does, and thank goodness.
Instead, when I look backward at the time with my babies, toddlers, preschoolers and school age sons, I focus on discrete days and experiences we have shared. I call this “no regret parenting”.
Suddenly, instead of a blurry past that fast-forwards to today, I’ve got a folder of memories, stuffed to overflowing that I can cherish, many of them centered around family skiing.
6. The Importance of Health
Being healthy makes you a better skier or snowboarder. Muscle strength, endurance, aerobic capacity, flexibility — all of these physical attributes will enhance your experience on snow. They’ll also enhance your overall health and ability to function in your world.
After family and friends, health is your greatest asset. Treasure it. Preserve it. Enjoy it. Enhance it.
Two years ago, yesterday, I was diagnosed with cancer. This challenged me physically and mentally. The first 12 months were dreadful, difficult and emotional. As the year rounded closer to this second anniversary, I realize how much stronger and happier (and possibly wiser?) I am today.
Don’t wait for a crisis.
Preserve your physical and emotional health. It’s a trite saying, “but if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” The same holds true for dads.
Take care of yourself and take care of your loved ones.
Seize those ski days.
- Why Skiing is Good for Me, and My Family
- In Praise of Family Skiing
- No Regret Parenting
- Reflections on Burn Out, Family Skiing and Giving Thanks
- Risk, Reward and Responsibility: The Three “R’s” of Skiing Safety
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