Falling on my Face. Repeatedly.

On Monday and Tuesday, my best friend Courtney and I decided to have a mini-getaway and drove out to the Mississippi River. We stayed at Chestnut Mountain Resort to do a little bit of snowboarding since she’s been shredding since she was a kid and I’ve recently fallen in love with the sport. After a few easy runs down to the river, we decided to give the terrain park a go. She vaguely remembered how to do some tricks, and I was ready for something new. What ensued was the most hilarious, humbling, and rewarding experience I’ve had all month.

We settled on a small beginner fun box, and after a few sips of premade Jose Cuervo margaritas discreetly disguised in a Kombucha bottle, we set on landing some new tricks. At least ten of our first initial tries, we realized we were slowing down too much before the jump, either stopping right before the box or toppling over in a very slow and ungraceful fashion. As the sun was setting and the temperature was quickly dropping into the negatives as a snowstorm set in, we decided to go to our hotel room to warm up, and ended up watching a few episodes of Black Mirror and drawing pictures with gel pens, falling asleep at around 10pm and confirming that tomorrow, we would definitely reach our goal of landing the box jump.

The next morning, the snow had stopped and we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise, casting a delicate lavender light over the Mississippi River. We made some sandwiches and headed out again, determined to accomplish our goal. As we sat on the lift, we saw the box from an aerial perspective and laughed at how TINY the box was, but how big it seemed in the moment. We also saw a younger boarder (which was rare, since we were staying on a weekday and had the whole park to ourselves) gracefully slide over the box.

“Okay,” Courtney mused. “If he can do it we can definitely do this. We just have to not think about it and go as fast as we can.”

We took turns going down first, recording the other as they gave the box a go. I went a little faster than before, and promptly and unceremoniously fell on top of the box, smashing my shins into the rail and hitting my head on the icy ground. I definitely needed to pick up some speed – the consequence of going too slow was a painful kiss from the box’s cold metal rails. Courtney went down next, clearing the box and then falling straight on her back. The videos we have are filled with ridiculous falls followed by hysterical laughter. Why were we doing this again?

After our first falls, we would keep ditching the box, sometimes avoiding it completely. Fear had crept into our heads, muddying up our goals and making it that much harder. We decided that we were overthinking it, and all we had to do was not think about it.

On her second try, Courtney cleared the box in a spectacular fashion, and I can be heard in the recording hooting for joy like an over-proud mother. I hadn’t yet gotten out of my head, and I was rewarded with a few more wipeouts, bruising my knees and ditching the box a few more times. I even got so angry with myself for ditching the box at one point that I unstrapped my bindings and ran back up the mountain to try again, leaving me completely breathless yet grateful that I had spent the week prior sprinting up the seven floors to my sister’s condo after my workouts.

When I finally made it, I had promised myself in my head to stop thinking. I distracted my head with other thoughts, imagined myself clearing the box, and set a goal in my mind to try my best. I went down, picked up some speed, and slid right over the box, finding myself able to even do a cute little jump down the box at the end. I hollered for joy, feeling an incredible mixture of pride and adrenaline coursing through my veins, and we promptly headed for a bigger, longer box. We both cleared the longer box after a few tries and, by the end of the day, we had even gone off some ramps. It was an exhilarating and beautiful experience, one that only reached me as soon as I decided to let go and stop overthinking.

Humans are blessed with an incredible ability to think, but it can also be a trap. I’ve read somewhere that we need to consciously use our brains as a tool, because if we let it control us, we are helpless against ourselves. This is why meditation is so important and effective – it teaches us how to generate awareness of our thoughts, and through practice, learn to control the thoughts themselves. This simple reminder allowed me to stretch beyond what I thought I was capable of and truly enjoy the moment. Courtney and I spent the entire ride back talking about how much fun we had, treating ourselves to huge slim jims, sugary cappuccinos, and spicy skittles as we talked about life on our way back to Chicago.

Let go of what you’re holding on to if it doesn’t serve you. Allow your body to breathe, allow yourself to feel the flow you have inside you. It will most likely amaze you in ways you never thought possible. And above all, don’t give up. Success is only a few tries away.

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