On our birthdays each year, Barry and I talk about things that we're excited for in the year to come, things we want to accomplish, places we want to go, and themes that we hope to play out in the year ahead. When we had this discussion on my 40th birthday back in October, I decided my theme this year would be Old Dog, New Tricks. Not unrelated, I recently Googled midlife crisis (WebMD suggests midlife transition, thank you very much). The Old Dog, New Tricks theme seems to fit nicely into several definitions of the midlife circumstance. Midlife crisis, midlife transition, or just an innocent theme devised on a birthday... whatever it is, I've been serious in my approach to it. I present exhibit A.
I've talked about doing it for years, but it took the declaration of the year of Old Dog, New Tricks to make me finally pull the trigger on taking snowboarding lessons. I signed up for three group lessons at Mt. Hood Meadows, pieced together the necessary gear, and immediately worried that I was going to be so bad at the sport that I'd have a miserable time. Lesson one started out tough. It felt awkward being on the board and I fell a ton. Getting up after a fall with both of your feet strapped to the same board isn't easy to pull off. Forget pulling it off with dignity. But after two hours of instruction and practice I started catching on to basics. And I realized that dignity is overrated. By the end of the lesson, I was having a ball making turns down the bunny slope (video evidence here), and there was so much powdery snow coming down and accumulating that when I did fall, it was actually fun. I felt like a little kid again, and I had a permanent grin on my face for the rest of the day (photo evidence here). A week later came lesson two, which was awesome. The skills (very basic skills) I'd learned in lesson one were sticking and I was cruising down that bunny slope without fear. That chance-taking confidence combined with icy slopes resulted in several falls and tender black and blue knees, but they were worth it. I was actually learning how to do something that I thought I was never going to be able to do. I took my third lesson a couple weeks later with a group of people who were a lot more skilled than I was. It was disheartening at first, but I kept feeding myself quiet words of encouragement. I intentionally talked to myself in the same way that I would talk to my students who needed a little extra support to keep from giving up at challenges back when I taught elementary school (which, by the way, was a decade ago). I was able to keep up with the other students in the group, and I ended up making several runs on my own after the lesson was over. When it was all said and done, I'd so much fun in each of the lessons and I was proud to see progress in my abilities from week to week. It felt incredibly satisfying to challenge myself to try something new, and even more satisfying that this particular new trick stuck. I had a dream about snowboarding last night in which I felt myself floating beautifully back and forth down a snowy slope. Floating isn't happening yet, but I'm definitely going back for more. I want to float someday. And my bruised knees have already healed.