Saturday, January 5, 2013

Danger And Fear

Another glorious day of winter beauty at Stevens Pass yesterday.

Yet as I skied around this bright and pristine wonderland, my thoughts focused on two dark topics:

Danger and fear.

Despite the cheerful bluebird skies and sweetly absurd Dr. Seuss trees, this mountain resort is alive with danger. A moment's indecision or an instant of bad judgement can land me buried under the snow in a tree well, face-planted into a tree trunk, or sliding swiftly and uncontrollably down an icy cliff. Ouch. Cringe. It's difficult to face those truths, but wild places always bear the risk of harm or injury.

Fear is something entirely different from danger. Fear is an emotional response to a real or imagined danger. As with any emotion, I cannot control my initial experience of fear; if I peer over the top of a steep slope and feel an overpowering desire to retreat, I can't pretend I didn't feel it. But it's how I choose to respond to that onrush of fear that matters to me. I can either give in to it, or put it out of my mind and carry on.

This is one of the most powerful lessons of the mountain.  As a skier, I've learned to push past my fears and to take on those dangers that I think I can handle. With every run that I take, I practice this lesson over and over and over. And as the years go by, I can see how this discipline of working through my fears has rewarded me not only with incredible joys and growth as a skier, but in all areas of my life.

Danger is real. But fear is just an emotion. Don't let it hold you back.

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Wanna read about the twists and turns of my ill-fated 2012-2013 ski season? Check these out:

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