Many of my personal epiphanies have come from snowboarding. The process of learning to ride (beginning when I was 39) has spawned countless metaphors about life (and from a previous post, you know I love a metaphor), all worthy of discussion. One of my favorites is the concept of “Look there, go there.”
At my first snowboard camp in Colorado, I was having trouble making my way down steep slopes. My board ran away with me, causing multiple a**-over-teakettle spills, which at my age tend to take their toll in dark multi-colored bruises shaped like giant partridges that last for weeks.
Substitute the word “life” for “board” anywhere in this post, and it really gets interesting.
Several excellent, patient coaches taught me to look where I wanted to go–across the aptly named “fall line,” rather than straight down. By doing so, my shoulders and body would naturally turn in the direction I wanted to go, and I would be the boss of my board. There’s a huge element of trust involved–I had to overcome the fear of losing control as I’d done in the past, and of speeding off into the nearest tree well (which I’d also experienced), and just trust that the process would work.
“Look there, go there” also comes in handy when riding through trees, or around obstacles like board-chomping rocks, or when traversing on a narrow ledge that falls away on either side into a fatal abyss. Look at the tree, smash into the tree. Look at the space between the trees, and glide through with ease. Look down into the abyss, and pray for the ski patrol to be nearby. Focus your gaze on the path ahead, and pass through the danger zone with nothing worse than an oversupply of adrenaline.
I have learned that when the way forward is challenging, I have to look beyond the obstacles, trust myself and my coach, and somehow everything turns out all right. When I focus on what’s standing in my way, I get mired in self-doubt, or flail about feeling sorry for myself until I find a way out. I could give you a million examples, but I’m guessing you’re already thinking of your own.
A friend once said, “Could it be that simple? I just have to look where I want to go?” I believe it is that simple, but in the manner of all things worthwhile, not necessarily easy. It helps to have the determination to get right up from that tumble, shake the snow out of your jacket, and try again.
And if you’re lucky enough to have great coaches, it’s that much easier.