I Got Friends When I'm In Low Places

This week I learned to snowboard. Everyone told me the same thing. First day is not much fun. Second day is hell. Third day is when it starts to come together. Well, it was mostly true, but perhaps "hell" is an understatement.

Day 2, you start to try to do the right things, but you end up falling a lot, and in the Northeast, a lot on the ice. Even worse, you tend to fall on the same part of your body, over and over again. My left buttcheek shows off a grapefruit sized bruise with quarter sized black spots. And other than one time when I caught the front edge and I went from standing to a face plant in a moment that most seemed like a car crash, these bruises best represented my day.

And so, I headed into Day 3 with definitive dread. Every part of my body screamed at me. Every bit of my nature urged me to stop this madness. With a headache and a sore jaw (from hitting my helmeted head so hard it dislocated my jaw), hamstrings and calves too sore to touch, wrists that no longer could summon the fingers to clench, it was all too easy to head in. It was at that time that I could have most easily given up. I pictured it. Began convincing myself that I had accomplished enough. I was halfway down, yet already off the slopes. The psychological onslaught was intricate and comprehensive. There were more reasons to stop than continue, and the negativity reinforced itself in every fall.

And that was when my friend Mike, a great instructor, decided to take half a run with me. He instilled such confidence with a calm, assuring tone. He told me to try some techniques, but most importantly he told me that we would eventually try something that worked.

But then Mike had to go teach paying students and I was left to my mental self-defeat campaign, reinforced with every tumble as I cursed in multiple languages. And then my friend Lou committed to riding with me. And with every fall, I had so much more of an incentive to get up. Lou waited for me. I couldn't stay down for more than a moment. If just for perception, self or otherwise, I persevered. The equilibrium tipped, and I now had more reasons to keep going.

As a result of Mike and Lou, I finished Day 3 strong, cutting the slopes on both sides of the board and finishing with a sense of accomplishment. I still groan when I sit down, but the trip was a success because I couldn't do it alone and I didn't have to.