Unmoved, I stood there and watched as the snowflakes gathered on his beard. Hours passed. Okay maybe not hours but a looong time passed. Still, I refused to move. At first, he asked me nicely. Let's keep going, come on, follow me! As the snowflakes began to line his beard, he began to plead with me. Just take it a little at a time, it's not that far, you'll be fine. Stony silence from yours truly.
No one was going to make me do what I didn't want to do. And there was no way I was going to fall again.
Falling was bad. Falling hurt. Falling was embarrassing. Falling was hard to get up from. Falling wasn't perfect. Falling was not for me.
I had already fallen once and once was more than enough for me.
As I stood there on Blue Hill, unmoving in my ski gear and the light veil of snow that was developing on my hat and hair, I looked down from the top of ski slope to the lodge at the bottom. I looked at the other skiers shwooshing down the slope past us. I looked at the trees lining the sides of the trail. I looked up at the white sky, absently opened my mouth to catch a few flakes.
I tried not to look at the snow that was infiltrating the reddish brown beard of my very patient instructor. I tried not to cry in frustration and mortification.
I was determined. There was just no earthly way that I was going to strap myself back into those ridiculous tortuous skis and fall my way all the way down that slope. Nope. No way.
So there we stood.
When I fell hours before, my instructor had very nicely tried to instruct me on how to get up, but I was too peeved to be down in the first place to hear a word he said. I did not want any part of learning how to get up or how to fall, for that matter. I just wanted to wiggle my nose like Jeannie or Samantha and magic my Self back down to the lodge. No skiing involved.
Eventually, after about an hour in reality, the cold and snow got the best of Mr. Patient Instructor and he gave up. He said I could pick up my skis and walk the rest of the way down the slope. I won.
Or so I thought at the time. I was eight years old.
What I didn't realize was how much I had lost by giving up the opportunity to do something scary. To get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. To strive and achieve something difficult. To meet the challenge and THEN win.
For a long time, I thought that stubbornly standing my ground and staying safe were the best decisions. Sure, sometimes I took big leaps. Sometimes I took risks. But mostly, like most people, I played things safe.
Even when I was up at the top of a ski slope the next time (yes, I kept trying), I chose the safer route so I would have less chance of falling down. I did learn to ski fairly well over the years. But I did not allow my Self to learn how to fall or get up afterwards. At least, not until fairly recently.
These days, I can see that playing it safe for so many years kept me playing a smaller game, in so many ways. It kept me from pursuing my own dreams and a career of my own for a very long time. It kept me hostage in a marriage that stifled my authenticity and creativity for far too many years.
These days, I consciously push my Self to set and meet challenges often. I know that the growth of my daughter, my business, my relationships, my good health, my wealth and so many other things depends on my own steady growth. I know that without that push, I will stagnate.
(Newsflash: Stagnation is icky.)
Next time you feel like digging your heels in while the snow continues to fall, thinking about what's keeping you there. Think about your reasons long and hard. The possibility of making a mistake, of falling can be daunting. But guess what? We all fall down, just like in the nursery rhyme. It's not that big of a deal.
It's the getting back up that matters.