I was 12-years old the first time I skied a black-diamond trail. For those non-skiers of the bunch, different trails are arranged as follows. You have the bunny slope. Which consists of newbies, two-year olds and any one deemed “big chickens”. Next up you have green slopes. They are gentle rolling hills in which you will frequently find yourself causally whistling whist making your way happily down a mountain.
Then you have blue. On blue slopes you begin to learn to challenge yourself a bit. Learning to stop becomes important. Then there’s black. On black slopes if you didn’t wear gloves you would likely chew your nails the quick. Then last of all you have black-diamond slopes. This is where you learn to create new curse words. Also, there is no stopping. If you stop on a black-diamond you fall off the side of a mountain.
You’d think as you grow older you would continue to progress or at least maintain your skill. With me, nope. I’ve created a whole new level of skiing. It’s called staying in the lodge where they have hot fires and serve delicious, delicious alcohol. I’ve questioned myself repeatedly on why the regress. And I think I’ve finally figured it out.
When I was twelve and I would see a sign for the black-diamond trails, I would eagerly, almost giddily, head straight for it. There was nothing in my conscious mind or sub-conscious for that matter that said, hey, you, stupid girl, did you know you could die doing this? To me it was an adventure and I never once doubted my abilities to handle the mountain.
I believed I could do it, and I did.
Why is it when you are a kid, you are convinced you can fly? Or convinced at the very least you are invincible? You still believe you can grow up to be, well, anything. I for example, wanted to be a ballet dancing Indiana Jones. What? It could happen.
I noticed another time I fully embraced that black-diamond mindset. It was when I first began writing. It didn’t matter to me that I didn’t hold a degree in journalism. It didn’t matter that I was starting later in life, as opposed to a shiny new 21 year old. I just didn’t doubt myself. I figured I had as much reason to be in the writing community as anybody else. I felt like hard work and perseverance were the keys. And I was right.
As with all things, however, the more you learn, the more you realize how bloody ignorant you are. At some point in my skiing life, I started to think too much about it. I went from my heart to my head. I started noticing the sharp cliffs, wild turns, and vertical drops that would make even Superman freak out a little bit.
With writing I feel like it’s been the same thing. The more I’ve learned in politics, the more I’ve learned what all I don’t know. And that realization in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. I prefer that to being a snot-nosed know it all. I appreciate being humbled and I am grateful for learning curves. But then you start noticing the cliffs. And once again it goes from heart knowledge to head knowledge.
And that is where the danger lies.
“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right.” Henry Ford said that and I’ve come to realize how important those words are.
A few years back I moved in to this beautiful condo. I loved it so much. And a friend gave me a sofa to put in my huge bedroom. After living in my car and then a few crap holes, I was so excited. But, being single, I had no one to help me move the sofa up the equally huge staircase. I was in Florida at the time and all my neighbors were retired 80-year olds, so they wouldn’t be much help other than bringing me bottles of wine. So I can’t complain. But I had it in my mind I wanted that sofa up the damn stairs and I wasn’t going to accept that I couldn’t do it by myself.
So, somehow, I finagled the sofa on to the stairs and took one little step at a time using my dancers legs to push the sofa up the staircase, all the while my cats were riding it thinking I was playing some sort of cheery game with them. It took me a LONG time to do, but I did it and with only one hole punched in the wall. And it was only because I was fully convinced I could do it by myself.
So tonight, on a cold New Year’s Eve, I thought about what would be the one thing I could wish for my friends, family, children and myself. And I drew the conclusion it would be this.
I wish for you to always lead a black-diamond life. I pray for your faith to always outweigh your fear. I pray for you to have blind innocence that always fully believes you CAN, because you are wholly capable. I wish for you to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and to ignore the naysayers. You are never too old, too young, too thick, too thin, too smart, too dumb, too uneducated, too over-educated, too whatever. Name your poison. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is how you view yourself and what you believe you are capable of. And you are capable of so much. Much more than you ever realized.
I hope for 2015 you decide to live in a childlike innocence they never questions your abilities and always believes you have a spot at the table regardless of where the table sits.
Here is to 2015, and regardless of which trail you traveling, may you boldly believe you can kick that mountain’s ass!
Happy New Year one and all!!