"Since I was so bad at it, and it was such a total hilarious humiliation, I believe I will force my children to go through the same thing. It builds character." (THIS is said by me regularly.)
Oh, the internal battle. Which side will win? My desire to never again attempt a sport which left me bruised and sore in both ego and body...or my desire to subject my children to as much life-building pain and suffering as possible?
And so...we came to Whistler, Canada.
Because, if you're going to perform terribly at the sport of skiing, you may as well do it on the same snow as hundreds of people who do it as easily as they breathe, right?
Few things in life are as humbling as being surrounded by people who are miles ahead of you in the task you are all attempting to accomplish.
Even fewer things are as humbling as watching 3-year-olds navigating the slopes with ease and grace, while you flail and slip and use every muscle in your body to remain upright and moving in the direction you are attempting to go.
Parents are strapping snowboards onto the feet of their 18-month-old children.
Skiers race past you without a care in the world, dodging your poles and errant skies as they go.
Snowboarders jump and flip and slice through the snow and the air.
Rows upon rows of youngsters in "ski school" follow the directions of their instructors in perfect unison, without looking as if they are expending an ounce of energy.
It is actually awe-inspiring to watch, even from the place on the mountain where I am frozen.
Skiing does not come naturally to me. I have accepted this.
My kids picked it up a lot better than I did on my first day. Very few wipeouts, no collisions with strangers, no four-letter words.
After 2 days of lessons, and several muscle-punishing hours on the breathtaking slopes of the Canadian Rockies...I am happy to report that I suck far less at skiing.
I'm not good. Not by a long shot. But I can MOSTLY control where I want to go, and stay upright while making my way there.
So can the rest of my family, I am only slightly bitter to report. My grand plan to have them eating snow and pancaking random people and unable to move the next day as a result...failed.
Which is okay, I guess. I'm sure I'll have many more moments to teach them humility, plenty of chances to train them to accept failure and learn from it, lots more opportunities to laugh at (I mean with) them when they wipe out on an epic scale.
It's like anything in life. Some of the things we have to learn, we pick up quickly and with minimal damage to our bodies or souls or spirits. And other things...other things we learn by failing, and trying again, and hurting ourselves and others in the failing and trying. And while there are plenty of things in my life that I have failed at and learned from and done better the next time...I can say with certainty that I much prefer the lessons I learned well the first time, and the times I was able to absorb the skills needed for a particular task without the pain inflicted on myself and/or others in the learning.
I found myself reflecting on this truth as I sat on the slopes of Whistler mountain yesterday. And as I pondered, I uttered a prayer.
"Lord...help me to be quick to learn what you're teaching me. Help me to hear when You're correcting my movements, and to make the adjustments I need to in order to follow perfectly in unison behind You. Thank You that even when I fail dramatically, You can still teach me in it. Thank You that when I work too hard, and become exhausted in the striving, and forget that I need to relax and trust and breathe and just BE with You, that You still lead me and teach me and guide me. Forgive me for having to learn the hard way so many times about so many things. Remind me of this mountain, this moment, the next time I need to remember it. Amen."
And He hears me, I know, because we are pretty darn close to heaven up here in Whistler.