Nowhere Close. Try Again.

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My best friend waiting at the top, trying to find the easiest way down for me at Hyak.

I wish that I was the sort of person to rush head-first into things, but in general I take a slower path.  This is true pretty much across the board—I don’t think I’ve ever been good, out of the gate, at anything.  I spent some time talking with my friend R this morning, soaking in a hot tub after a frustrating swimming lesson, and he paused a second before saying something along the lines of I’m going to say you’re not very good at change—because it means you’re not in complete control. It’s true—I’ve experience such frustration these past two months that I’ve almost broken into tears.  This isn’t to say I’m frustrated at my life; I couldn’t be happier.

I’m learning to recognize the learning period for what it is to me: a period of absolute frustration, stubbornness and tears.  It took six weeks of lessons before I finally had fun skiing.  Two weeks ago I almost broke down on the side of the slope, chattery corduroy snow beneath my skis, my lesson group at the bottom of the hill and my best friend waiting there, looking at me, saying just don’t turn in the ruts… look at me… turn to me.  No part of me was happy. I wanted to be better than this, to show him I can do this too, to show how much I’ve learned, to get to my class on time before they left for the lift, I wanted to be off the mountain, on stable ground, doing something I’m good at. I don’t want to be here. I looked down at him, looked past him to the group gathering near the lesson flags. The thing is—I had to get down.  There wasn’t another option, there wasn’t a button I could push to level anything out, the snow wasn’t going to get any softer, and I wasn’t going to get any stronger just standing there, terrified and stationary.  It wasn’t pretty, but I made it down. Because, I had to.

I’ve started to train for a triathlon.  Most of the training right consists of forcing myself to get in a pool and figure out how to swim.  It isn’t that I’m in danger of drowning—I’m a strong enough swimmer to play in the ocean or cruise around a lake, but I’m not a swimmer.  The first two sessions were with some of the other women signing up for the tri with me—none of us are really experts, so we’re just kind of giving each other moral support.  This morning I swam with one of my climbing partners and good lord, he is a wealth of information.  R is a one of the kindest people I know, and one of the strongest, and he was very sweet about all the things I was doing wrong.  Bending at the knees, popping my head up like a turtle, not tightening my core, not moving my arms close enough to my head… the list is pretty long.  He had me laughing enough to avoid tears, but I’m frustrated.  My body does not know what to do or how to do it, beyond—don’t drown.  But so much of swimming feels, right now, like nearly drowning. I have to learn to ride that closeness, without panic, and breathe. Simple. Sort of.

I’ll get there. Right now, I’m nowhere close.

Does everyone relentlessly try to improve themselves like this? My rest day today consists of swimming in the morning, pretending to clean (but writing this) during the early afternoon, meeting another friend to boulder this afternoon and then games and dinner with family.  Tomorrow morning, early rise to get to the mountain before lift lines become too insane and ski until I can’t anymore or my ride wants to head home.  I’m not good at any of the things I’m doing this weekend.  But I’m stubborn. And I’ll get there.

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