I signed a deal with the devil.
In exchange for a beautiful black down jacket, I fell in love with from a prestigious shop in downtown Milan.
My devil did not look like Brad Pitt (who can forget“I am Joe Black”?!?!), but the beautiful blue ski suit of the ski instructors.
Indeed, in exchange for a very futile item of clothing, I was formally committing myself (with my husband) to learn to ski.
The note with my signature still exists. I was surprised my husband had kept it for all these years. The historic promise dates back to the early 2000s, but it would take a few more years before I could honour it. Finally, after the birth of my second child, Federica, the opportunity to take the first ski lessons showed itself.
The first time I put my skis on and the teacher taught me the basics; I was terrified by the sense of slipping and exhausted by fatigue. Little by little, I learned. In the following years when we went skiing, the first few days I spent in a terrifying state of tension. My legs were stiff, and I struggled.
Still, I am not a great skier, while I no longer feel the sacred terror of descending on the most challenging slopes, I do not command great technique. And since my daughters are better than me and always leave me behind, when I want to ski on some more complicated slopes, without the fear of ending up on the ground, I am accompanied by a ski instructor.
Despite the difficulties, year after year I am here trying again because I enjoy skiing so much: I am intoxicated by the beauty of the snowy landscapes, the silence of the mountain and the speed when going down the slope.
And, over the years, I’ve learnt few lessons from skiing.
First of all, being present, centred on what you are doing. You cannot allow yourself to distractions while skiing. Being aware of your surroundings for yours and others’ safety, and being aware of your body and how you move it are both fundamental aspects. One distraction and you may end up on the ground, or someone could get hurt.
Another lesson I’ve learnt from skiing is to always look downstream, to the end of the slope, that is, to my goal. This has a convenient purpose in skiing: if you look downstream, your body weight is distributed correctly. Beyond the mechanical aspects, always looking downstream has, for me, the meaning of looking ahead, towards my goal and evaluating the best way to get there. One has to have a clear understanding of where one wants to go just so to be able to find the best way to get there.
Last, skiing taught me the humility and awareness that at times we need someone else’s help. When I want to tackle the most complicated slopes, I rely on a ski instructor. The ski instructor, a connoisseur of the hills and people, can guide me in the most challenging stretches and shows me the best way to tackle that downhill stretch. It shows me the best gradients, corrects my posture, encourages me to go on.
This awareness is particularly important for those like me who have chosen the professional path of freelancing. Even in my work, I feel the need to lean on other people who can guide me along the best road, saving me a lot of time and effort.
And I am aware that I will probably never be able to do the most steepest slopes. In any case, at the end of my hill, whatever it is, I know I have done my best to overcome a great fear and reach my objective.
These are the three lessons I’ve learnt from skiing? What are the lessons you’ve learnt from a sport?
Check out the other posts in the “Lessons Learnt” series