I went skinning this past weekend. Part skiing, part hiking, not part skinny dipping, although I did that afterwards in a hot tub to relieve my tired legs. Skinning, where you attach adhesive to the bottom of your downhill skis, allowing you to walk up the mountain without sliding backwards. Special bindings allow your boots to lift from the heel, with an additional lever you can pull down that creates almost a heel. So there ya go, skinning is like hiking in ski-boot heels up a steep hill of snow. Why? Why not.
Challenge spark synapses in your brain that otherwise would not occur. What’s the point? I don’t know about you, but being smarter is never a bad thing. Although some could argue hiking up a 4000-foot mountain might not be the smartest way to spend your early Saturday morning, although the sunrise was gorgeous. And according to my friend’s watch, I may have burned up to 1200 calories. Not a bad way to start your day, especially when the gym lately seems like a chore itself.
Besides connecting with nature and earning a solid calorie-burn, I learned something else truly valuable – a reminder to slow down. My companions were two men in extremely good shape who skin and ski (and cross fit) often. I was intimidated. I started off jamming my poles into the ground to propel me forward faster. My skis jerked forward faster than my legs, clomping rather than gliding, but I wanted to keep up. In my mind, I had to push myself harder, stronger, faster. Until I realized…
I was not in a hurry. And in fact, the motion flowed more smoothly when I allowed my breath to even out and my skis to glide along the surface of the snow as they were meant to. I wasn’t hiking after all, I was skinning. Skinning is a gliding motion, and my arms were there to provide support, not grind until my back was tense. I breathed more deeply, more rhythmically, more evenly. I felt one leg glide forward, lifting my heel in rhythm with the motion. I allowed my shoulders to loosen and hang to place the poles in unison with the opposite foot, easily not aggressively. By golly, I learned to enjoy the rhythm so much I decided to hike the damn hill three times! Maybe the bloody mary waiting for me at the lodge below partially served as my motivation, can’t lie, but damnet, I did it.
So many times I find if I simply slow down, absorb the sensations my body is offering me, I tend to feel more control, less suffering. This acknowledgement trickles to all parts of my life. Laundry sucks when I’m rushed. But when I slow down to fold the t-shirt my son wore the other day, accentuating his worried blue eyes as he told me about a classmate getting in trouble at school, then laundry doesn’t suck so much. Or when I get annoyed because my daughter leaves her “upstairs things” lying around the living room, I try to slow down and remember she brought down that medicine-looking bag filled with perfect gizmos to accommodate her role play as a pediatrician named Iam C. Razy, who “specializes in scaring patients, worrying mothers and getting yelled at by her boss.” Enough said.
Slow down. Life does not have to be a rush all the time. I have to catch myself often, my mind fleeing faster than the moment will allow. Because then I find myself frustrated, discouraged, out of breath, low on energy. What good am I then?
I know some people thrive in turbo mode, or so they think. But what are they missing? The little things in the seconds between thoughts and action. The moments that provide deeper meaning to this thing called life we are all trying our very best to live.
I choose to live my life slow and steady, where I can appreciate the moments that trigger more appreciation, less frustration. Gliding to a steady rhythm makes sense to me, but it’s a game I often have to remind myself how to play. Slow down, turbo, it’s not a race.