This past month, I went skiing in Steamboat, Colorado for 3 glorious days. But having not been since circa 2005, I found it… difficult at first, to find my legs1.
During the 2nd day, I sat in the cafe at Thunderhead Lodge, gulping down a pair of $4.30 Powerades, hoping for the throbbing in my right hamstring to subside, desperately trying to catch my breath, and sharing a table with a nice family from Boston. They asked me how it was, skiing for the first time in 8 years or so… and when I told them that it was “a lot more painful than I remember”, they laughed… but understood. The mother then said something that I now find poignant:
It’s so much more difficult when you’re trying to be cautious about everything. When you’re younger and less fearful to try new things, and feeling more adventurous, it’s so much easier.
For much of the first day and a half2, I was inundated with thoughts of “good gosh, why won’t my skis move the way I want them to” and “is this what getting old feels like” and “why do I keep sliding down the hill headfirst on my back” and finally — upon making it down the mountain — “I have no idea how I made it down the hill but I’m not really sure I can survive that again”.
Skiing-wise, I finally managed to find my rhythm — albeit, not until day 3 — when I remembered that I did, in fact, know how to ski, and that I had no rational reason to go pizza all the way down the hill. After that, it was like angels and sunlight peaking through the clouds in a heavenly chorus. Of course, the getaway to the mountains was all-around glorious, nonetheless.
Much like a 3-day ski trip, life is too short to allow self-doubt to creep in to screw up the ride.
And that’s the thing. Sometimes it’s all mental.
That is not to say, however, that a mental “block” is an insignificant obstacle.
Maybe it’s just the struggle of coming back from winter break, but that is how I find myself feeling as I stare down the barrel of the 2nd week of the semester.
For whatever reason, I’ve had these thoughts every evening of “I don’t actually know if I’m good enough (of a teacher) to make it through tomorrow”. Every. Day. This. Entire. Week.
Of course, this first week back was wonderful.4 Any fears that it would be otherwise were not at all rational… but emotionally-driven fears rarely are.
Three of us on the ski trip were teachers, and while commiserating during one of the evenings, we all agreed: We all truly enjoy what we do… but our jobs are hard.
I do believe — and I always have — that a number of aspects of our jobs as teachers get more difficult — not less — as we become wiser about our craft.
It is Sunday evening as I type this5, and, yes, I’m scared of tomorrow. I remember earlier in my teaching years when I not only looked forward to Mondays (which I still do), but when I was also not remotely afraid of them either (which for some reason, I now am, remotely). At times this week I’ve felt like that pilot in “Top Gun” that flipped out mid-flight and voluntarily turned in his wings after stating that he’d “lost his edge”.
As if I’m skiing scared.
Alas… it is a 38 week campaign, and we all know there will be days like these.
- and my lungs, and my rhythm, basically my entire skiing mojo [↩]
- especially after painfully eating it repeatedly on the blues on Saturday morning [↩]
- By the way. Aging stinks. Skip 8 years of skiing/boarding and try going in your thirties, if you’d like to see for yourself. [↩]
- Well… aside from the fact that my brain felt glazed over and half-asleep and three steps slow until Friday afternoon… [↩]
- Downton Abbey is on, which, by the way, I think may have no more than one season of life left in it. [↩]