On-line Learning, Skiing & Places You Can Only Take Yourself

Squaw Valley , California

I just spent a few days skiing in the Lake Tahoe Basin at Squaw Valley. A few weeks ago I was out on the Bay on a sailboat. As I was skiing down the mountain I thought about how sailing and skiing are similar. They have many of the same elements. Natural beauty, time spent with friends and the use of applied skills learned over many years. Where skiing and sailing diverge is in the fact that if you can not ski there are places that you can never go. No one can take you there, you have to take yourself.

Northstar, Lake Tahoe, California

My college daughters are in finals now as well. So these three elements are coming together as one in my mind. If you’re out sailing you can bring a friend and as long as they wear a life jacket and can hang on they are welcome to ride along. The experience for the novice is similar to the experience for the expert. You can go under the Golden Gate Bridge and even further if you like. With skiing there are places you can never go. You can not follow an expert through the trees and down the face of Granite Chief for example. You can not take the backside in a snow storm. There are places where only the experts can go.

As I watch my daughters navigate through what is likely a fairly horrific college experience I wonder how does this compare? Last semester my daughter slammed her bedroom door telling me that she had to go and teach herself calculous, “slam, slam, slam!” Now, we are in the next semester and she is teaching herself microeconomics, “slam, slam, slam!” Of course she hates it. It’s still college, but without the best part of college; friends, parties, football games and those long slow Sunday afternoons sitting in the library sleeping on top of your Econ text book.

As much as they want to quit and I personally never want to hear another word about on-line learning (which I also teach) there is no other choice. You either turn in your day pass and stay at the bottom, or you take the chair lift to the top. I remember my first day skiing at Mt. Bachelor in Bend, Oregon. We woke up at 5:00 a.m. drove for three hours, parked, and spent a weeks work of wages to buy a lift ticket. It was a sticker attached to a wire that you threaded through the zipper of your coat. When your coat was zipped up the sticker acted like a flag that whipped around your face. My then boyfriend, Dairy farmer, Barry basically threw me down the the face on a black diamond run called “Texas.”

From the top of Texas you could see the parking lot and about 500 miles into the distance. I was wearing jeans, cotton tube socks and a thin wind breaker. The wind howled and I slid down the mountain screaming on the pockets of my 501 jeans with my best friend Rosalee. We saw our boyfriends about an hour later at the bottom and then we did it again. Was it fun? Not likely. It was probably similar to teaching yourself college calculous in your high school bedroom, but in the end my perseverence would take me places not everyone can go.

Mount Bachelor, Bend, Oregon

When my kids were young we spent almost every weekend at our cabin in Truckee, California and skied Northstar Resort. On most weekends in the winter we invited friends to stay with us and ski. Many of the friends I made when the girls were in grade school did not ski, or if they had in the past they had given it up. Sometimes they would meet us at mid-mountain for lunch. Other times we would meet back at the house. I would often look at them in their warm sweaters and thick socks curled up by the fire with a book and think they had missed everything and didn’t even know it. How can you explain what it feels like to be standing on the top of mountain? Or, to be in sync with a group of people sharing an experience that feels like falling into a dream?

On my most recent trip I skied with a close friend of mine that I often ski with. She does everything fast. She drives fast, she talks fast, and she moves fast in her everyday life. So, without exception she skies fast. I knew this before going and trained by walking the steepest hills in my neighborhood for days before leaving. As expected we skied run after run all day in the cool sunshine overlooking Lake Tahoe. It was without exception the best day I’ve had all year.

What challenges you beyond what you feel you can endure can one day take you places not everyone can go. So, you have to decide. Will you be the one waiting in the lodge at the end of the day? Or, will you be the one at the top of the mountain?

No one can do it for you.

Love & Blessings to all.

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