Free Fruit and a Most Humbling Experience

Two brief stories about my week:

I stopped at a different fruit and vegetable store on my way to a dinner. The 40 something-ish owner had shaggy blond hair and sported an embroidered US Army jacket. I asked in Italian for 2 tomatoes and one red pepper. A huge smile took over his face as he said “Americano?!” “Si…” “Ahhhhh!!!” And he gave me a giant hug. We attempted to chat for a couple of minutes in Italian. He had an old set of American BDU’s from Iraq as well as an unidentified set from Afghanistan, complete with a picture of him wearing them. I ended up leaving with a new friend, 2 extra tomatoes and a bunch of Clementines thrown in. Not bad for less than 2 Euro.

One of the most humbling experiences of my life occurred yesterday during a ski trip. I spent all morning on the bunny slopes working on my turns and a couple of other things, and then after lunch decided it was time to be brave and travel up high. The easiest run on the mountain had a small easy part, a steeper intermediate part, and then an easier part coming in towards the end. I was nervous but the girls I skied with all morning convinced me we could do it.

I exited the chair lift and a feeling I have never had before hit me. I have now identified this feeling as pure fear and panic. As I looked over the side of the mountain, I felt myself freezing in place and I could not even turn my head. I was so scared to move because I felt like the sides of the mountain were so close, just waiting for me to spill over. This is probably how Jon Snow felt when he was on top of the Wall, except he managed to kick ass and take names. So I stood there and tried to control my breathing and rationalize with myself. Obviously I was not going to fall off of the mountain, but I was so scared I could not move. The wind would gust and I would panic all over again as I felt it push me a little bit. I managed to get moving by side stepping/sliding down the first bit, and felt better once I got onto a flatter part with less of a visible drop off. Then I came to an insurmountable obstacle- a giant cliff of snow that a bunch of six year olds were flying down at ridiculous speeds. I started to feel the same tightness in my chest and again, froze in place. So after this continued and I just couldn’t make myself ski, I took my skis off and walk/slid down the hill on my butt. Telling the story today seems silly- why couldn’t I just go? But the more I think about it, the more I am ok to admit I was really, really scared and I froze. I got down the scariest part where the other women I was with were waiting for me. I felt bad that they waited but was so grateful for their support. Even though I know I sucked and did terrible, they were really great at uplifting me and helping me down the rest of the mountain. On my skis this time.

Now I know I need to go back and deal with some irrational fear of heights and/or powerlessness while standing on top of the world. I will work on my turns more- my instructor (who the more I think about it reminds me of Tami Taylor (of FNL fame) says that if you master the turns you can ski any mountain. Goal set. But I won’t complain if spring just hurries and somehow I don’t have to face this fear again 😉

This is my panic face apparently.
This is my panic face apparently.
If you look closely you will notice the edge of the world perilously close to my skis. You know nothing, Jon Snow!
If you look closely you will notice the edge of the world perilously close to my skis. You know nothing, Jon Snow!

5 thoughts on “Free Fruit and a Most Humbling Experience

  1. Yes you can do this – you got back up on Don’s horse at Wheaton Stable once upon a time! Perhaps it would help for you to pitch yourself facedown and then sideways into the snow to practice your falls – it was the first skill to acquire in Airborne….remember Robbie and me acting the fools on our front lawn soon after I met him!?

    1. Yes, I think I need to go and practice falling on purpose a bunch. Being scared of falling is what I think added to the terror. I forgot how scared I was of horses at first 🙂

  2. Sounds kind of like my first any only ski trip. Except my walk down the steep part was quickly halted when ski patrol told me I had to take the lift down rather than endanger myself and everyone else on the hill (apparently they missed the part where I’d just plowed into some folks while rolling very gracefully to a halt)…

  3. OK, I get it. Having said that, fear is another of life’s challenges. Many don’t face that moment because they don’t try and experience new things. You are on this GREAT ADVENTURE and are traveling it with such a great attitude, you will overcome this moment and be stronger for it. I am Proud!

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