Black Diamond Trail
Did I choose to do this? Or was this done to me?
I stood at the top of a snow-covered mountain. Skis adjusted, poles ready, goggles on, teeth chattering, heart pounding in my head. I thought I’d taken the ski lift up to the easy intermediate slope. But no. That was blocked off. What loomed in front of me was a sign for a ‘black diamond trail’. Expert level.
Petrified, I decided maybe I could find my way to a nice easy path that I usually took that let me ski down the mountain smoothly. So at the bottom I could sit uninjured and unimpaired in the lodge with my friends, drinking hot chocolate. Watching all those high sensation seeking personalities ski too fast down those insanely dangerous vertical trails over moguls and ice patches, entertaining me with their arrogance and impetuosity.
I walk - skied back to the ski lift.
The operator laughed at me when I asked about an easier way down.
“Wrong mountain dear. That other trail has been closed for months. Didn’t you read the signs?”
If I did, they hadn’t registered. I looked back down the ‘expert’ black diamond slope. Steeper than steep. Almost vertical. I gulped. Maybe I could take my skis off and just hike down. Or roll down like in the movies. Because I had no idea if I could actually ski down standing up. All those classes and ski lessons. Who was I kidding? I could barely pull off a parallel turn, much less a schuss.
Yeah this was for experts. Which I wasn’t. Never got there. Or never let myself get there. Whatever.
Very few other skiers came up here I noticed. Let’s hear it for exclusivity and rarified clientele. Not me. I was so happy just getting along. However that approach wasn’t working here as the only way down was on the slippery slope stretching out below me, twisting and turning and sometimes even disappearing from view.
“I could take it slow,” I said to myself, trying to self-talk my fears away. “No one is going to see me when I fall. And I am an experienced faller.” What would it matter if I slid halfway down on my backside? Not the most comfortable of rides but hey, it led to the same place.
Soft white powder snow filled up the air, dusting the slopes with white icy snowflakes. Perfect skiing conditions. I was the imperfection. The blot on the landscape. The misshapen snowflake. The tortoise who needed to transform into the …..
“Hey there,” a voice said behind me. “Wanna race to the bottom?”
I smiled at him and said “You go on ahead. Just taking my time today.”
Who was I kidding? Terror was my middle name.
He shrugged and raced off to the bottom speeding round the curve, becoming one with the earth and the sky. That’s what I would do. Could do. Imagine I could fly.
But first I had to walk. I pushed off. I could zig and zag for hours I thought. Shallow parallel turn, then another, then another. I was barely 100 yards from the top when I fell the first time. I got up and kept going and fell again. And again. It was exhausting to fight the steepness, fight the challenge.
A group of young things raced by. If I didn’t get to the bottom soon I would get too cold, too hungry, too tired. Maybe my friends would organize a search party? Fat chance. They were too busy getting drunk down below. I filled my lungs with air and breathed. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.
I prayed. “God you got me up here, or maybe it was my own subconscious, but seriously, show me the way.”
Pushing off again I forced myself to feel the slope underneath me, gravity keeping me earthbound, coordination letting me point and turn, point and turn, skiing not sliding anymore, more in control, more focused. I had a goal. Get to the bottom in one piece, sooner rather than too late. I emptied out my superfluous thoughts and feelings. Travel light. Started to imagine being balanced between mind and body, earth and sky, thoughts and emotions, every move perfection, every move ideal. I am perfect, whole, and complete.
The snow was melting on my nose, air warming in my nostrils as I breathed in love and life. My celestial energy tank was ready, cosmic energy coming in. ‘No fear’. Just love. Love the slope. Love the snow. Love running for your life. Run your own life.
My zigs and zags grew steeper, shorter, less shallow, less tentative. Rhythms and behaviors I’d been running away from took over, forcing me to accept the slope as it was, not as I wanted it to be. My hesitation had no time to take over. I found long lost coordination, my stance grew confident, neuroplasticity to the rescue. I was leaning in, feeling the way forward, knowing I’d survive, knowing this was the actual way to be alive, experiencing every little thing.
It felt like a cloudburst. At some point I let go, re- birthed out of my own pattern of holding back, getting stuck on flypaper, clenching up. Like a Yogi walking on coals or a race car driver going through a ring of fire, I started racing too. Why not? Soon it will be dark and cold and still. What is there to lose? I know how to do this. So many times in my mind I have done this, imagined this. Let’s go. No more zigzagging. Just wiggle down the middle. Go fast. Go clean. You’re in it. You’re doing it.
The world sped by. It felt better than good. Great. Thrilling. Joyous. I forgot everything I was supposed to remember. No cares, no obligations, no promises to be broken. I was free as the wind and the sky. Permission to fly. Let it all go. Enjoy the show. Be the flow.
Flying. It’s not an illusion, not a conceit. Real time. I, who’d always calculated the time, planned the , outcome, anticipated the worst. Now all irrelevant. Circumstance is Kismet. Time slowed down. I was at one with everything and everyone. The world shining all around me. Speeding down the path I’d chosen to wherever I was supposed to go.