Thursday, December 01, 2005

Point It Down the Hill

I have been snowboarding for eight years and instructing for about five. One of the phrases that probably comes out of my mouth the most when working with students of any skill level is "just point it down the hill". It is not the most technical piece of snowboarding advice, but in many instances, it is the best advice I can give them.

What stops most people from learning to snowboard is fear of failure, but the only way to fail is to not try. Of course most new snowboarders equate falling with failure, but falling is an inevitable part of the sport. A snowboarder who doesn't want to fall is like a diver that doesn't want to make a splash. I always tell my students that my role as instructor is primarily about support and encouragement. Falling is by far the greatest teacher on the hill, and so I ask them to look forward to falling...he who is not falling, is probably not improving. Right after a really bad spill, once they get their bearings, clear the snow from their goggles and get back to their feet, I will often see a student standing there looking down at the mountain and wanting no parts of falling again. They will invariably ask me what they are doing wrong. I will usually give them the technical reason for the fall, but I will also tell them, "the only thing you are doing wrong, is standing here judging what just happened as bad, and focusing on the same outcome in the future. Steel yourself...and when you are ready to accept the discomfort caused by your fear, just point it down the hill."

How easy it is for me to make these statements while on the mountain, but to miss the larger significance of what I am saying . In my life, I have been scared to point it down the hill on many occasions. I have equated falling with failing on so many occasions, but really how can I fail at being a human? How many times have I suffered a small fall in some facet of my life and given up on the goal that I was trying to achieve? How many times have I tried to figure something out completely in my mind prior to attempting it, only to be petrified by the fact that I couldn't guarantee a perfect outcome?

I have known for some time that I want to develop my writing talent. I have had so many people encourage and patiently wait for me to "point it down the hill". Sadly, I have let their expectations stifle me, fearing the shame of disappointing them with my mediocrity...or worse shattering the image they have of me being intelligent and aware. I have focused on the outcome of underwhelming everyone including myself, instead of just accepting my fear. I have made excuses about not having found my voice, not having read enough literature, not having studied the craft. And you know what, I am tired of freezing my ass off up here on this hill.

With that said, this blog is a small step toward me attempting to point it down the hill. I guess its kind of like a bunny slope. I have heard a lot of folks say "write your passion", so my goal is to narrate my season this year on the hill. At the end of the year, I will assess everything I have put forth and determine if there is enough material here to justify taking it to the next level...

mr wilson

P.S. This blog is a literary experiment for me, so I would like to encourage anyone reading this to give whatever criticism, tips, or suggestions, or feedback you can on the quality of the writing. I will probably try out a few different approaches and styles so let me know what resonates and what doesn't.