Learning to Ski: A Life Lesson

I confess I’m enjoying living in Colorado for the opportunity to ski at some world-class resorts.  A few weeks ago, my daughter was home from college on Thanksgiving break, and we we’re able to take advantage of two days of skiing at Copper Mountain.  Being from back East, and never before skiing in Colorado, we both were amazed at the length of the ski runs and the majesty of the mountains.  While riding the chairlift on one occasion, we both reminisced about the first time my daughter had strapped on a pair of skis- she was four years old.  Several life lessons occurred to me as we talked:

Learning Young Makes a Difference.  My daughter got a great jump-start on skiing when at four years old, she took to the slopes.  Learning to ski at such an early age taught her a skill, that also provided great enjoyment, that will go with her the rest of her life.  Even though she hadn’t skied in recent years due to involvement in other sports, she never missed a beat out there on the slopes.  Learning young, learning as much as you can while you’re young, gives you the opportunity to practice and mature in areas that only accelerate your potential as you move further down the road of life.

Who You Learn from is Key.  My daughter learned to ski from me.  I learned to ski from my wife while we were dating; she had learned to ski when she was a child.  We were passing on to her what we had learned about skiing.  My wife would tell you that I’m a better skier than her and I would say that my daughter is a better skier than both of us!  My point is that if you learn from someone who is already good at something, then you have a much better chance at being good at it too, if not being better!

It Takes Courage to Conquer a “Mountain.”  Obviously, as a four-year old, my daughter didn’t have previous skiing experience.  But what she did have, which most children seem to possess, is fearlessness and courage to face the challenge of the mountain.  As a matter of fact, after only a few times up and down the bunny slope, by daughter informed me she was ready for the “big mountain.”  You can’t help but be impressed with that kind of childlike charisma!  After a few test runs down a moderate ski run, she insisted on going to the “top.”  Again, I have to confess, that as a father, I was proud of this four hear old’s heart and attitude.  Of course, a few falls soon curbed her enthusiasm, but not to the extent that it kept her off the steeper slopes.  Whether you’re four or forty-four, you can’t lack courage and conquer mountains- whether it’s something new that you’ve never done before, or another type of challenge you are facing.

Falling Down isn’t Failure.  As previously noted, my daughter fell a few times as the slopes became steeper.  But actually, the falls only caused her to become more determined to succeed!  She’d sometimes cry a little, or take my hand in helping her up, or even let me know she could get up herself, but regardless, her resolve was greater than ever- “Daddy, I’m going up again and this time I’m not gonna fall when I come down, Okay?”  And I would always respond, “I believe you sweetheart!”  Falling down in life isn’t failure if you’re willing to get back up and try again, as well as having someone who will always believe in you!  Certainly, God our heavenly Father serves that purpose, but so do other people too.

Life Should be Fun.  I’m not suggesting that life isn’t difficult at times, or when it is, that we simply laugh our way through the challenges.  Obviously, that isn’t emotionally or otherwise, healthy for anyone.  However, despite my daughter’s falls as a four-year old, and even a few weeks ago on the slopes of Copper Mountain when she hit the snow face first a time or two (I never fell simply because I wasn’t as daring as her…), our response leaving the slopes at the end of the day has always been, “Wow, that was fun!”  The exhilaration never comes from the falls or the mishaps, but from knowing that, at the end of the day, new experiences were created, new “trails” were carved out, and a mountain was conquered.


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