When I was in grade school and my sister was in high school, my family went on our church’s yearly ski trips for high schoolers and their families. During those trips, I learned how to develop irrational crushes on older boys, and I also learned to ski.
Green slopes (the easiest ones) were a breeze, and I could handle simple blues. One day during a trip to Crested Butte, Colorado, I tried to ski a more difficult blue slope.
It was ironically named Paradise Bowl.
Rocking my bright turquoise, hand-me-down puffy jumpsuit with the matching, snug, jacket, I rode the lift up with my mom. At the top, the sight of the wide, steep slope intimidated me.
But because I trusted my parents and had some turquoise shade of confidence, I did what I practiced and started gently gliding in careful Z’s across the mountain.
After a few Z’s, I lose concentration and suddenly my skis are pointed downwards, parallel to the daunting tree-line, and my little 10-year old body is zooming down Paradise Bowl.
My body shape has never been built for speed, and neither has my nervous mind, so it’s only a matter of seconds—about 20 actually—before I’m rolling, rolling, rolling, end-over-end through this paradise lost.
My parents looked on as I tumbled, my green-rimmed glasses flying one direction and my goggles another.
My gloves, poles, hat and skis all followed suit—soaring out across the bowl and eventually skewering into the powder, forming a haphazard target around me, now a victim of confidence.
I wasn’t hurt, and my parents quickly gathered my things and helped me up, but oh was I embarrassed. There were tears shed, and although I finished, with help, my confidence was severely diminished.
Looking back on it, I am so glad that I skied Paradise Bowl.
My family has told that story over countless meals, all of us belly-laughing through it. I smile at that mental picture of myself—sprawled out and puffy, encircled by far-flung gear.
Without a doubt, I know I failed spectacularly on Paradise Bowl. I took a risk and bombed. I also know that this story is infinitely better than “Leslie skied 15 greens that day and had fun!” THAT is a boring story.
No, I would rather fail spectacularly than cruise along comfortably. Wouldn’t you?