YK’s 365 Release: Day 16

My family is a big ski family. Our winters were scheduled around trips to mountain ranges all over the world. My sisters and I have been skiing since we were able to stand. I have photos of me standing, wobbly, in my boots barely able to walk, but with skis on and loving it.

It makes so much sense now, knowing who I am today, why I was enthralled by skiing. I don’t think we ever got skiing lessons except loose instruction from our parents. If you follow the path of my sisters and me through our history of skiing, it tells an entire history of who we have become.

When I was able to ski on my own and began to ski everyday some winters, it became clear I was an exceptionally strong skier. I was fearless, experimental, and I thrived on the adrenaline-rush of speediness (actually, I’m this way with everything, not just skiing). Skiing was exhilarating to me. I felt at home, I was in my own head with my own thoughts as I flew down the glistening mountains. It’s like meditation. There’s a sound that speed makes.

There came a point, even to my mother’s observations, that I was good enough to become a professional downhill skier. This didn’t mean much to me at the time. As long as I could ski all the time, I was happy. We purchased state of the art skis and so it began.

Soon, my mother, also a nonpartisan family woman, realized my commitment to skiing required she tour with me constantly. This meant less time for the rest of the family, and that is not my mother’s way. My mother has successfully never had a favorite amongst us. She’s been impeccably fair and equal. If she let one sister do something, then so too, it followed, the other two would be given the same opportunity to do the same if they chose to do so. Of course all children with siblings inquire, “Who’s your favorite?” and not only has she stalwartly asserted, “I don’t have a favorite,” but she has exhibited that to us our entire lives. She’s an incredible woman. She did encourage my talent, but she also valued building a cohesive family. So downhill professional skiing and training ceased. I didn’t really care since either way, I was still skiing.

Once in a while, I think about what would have happened if I had continued pursuing that path. I never think about it with regret, just with wonderment. As with all professional athletes, one day I would have had to retire from the sport, maybe in my late 20s or early 30s. Maybe it would have been around now. The way I see it, I retired from competitive skiing early, and just continued skiing for myself. I never wanted to compete (see Day 9)  and I can imagine my life would have been vastly different if I were just retiring now.

I will always love skiing. I will always go skiing. And I will always do things I love regardless of what is going on outside of me.

Back in my frequent skiing days (late 80s and early 90s), a lot of us used to wear “zinka” on our faces while skiing. It is a brightly colored sunblock that looks like party war paint. Since the luminescence of the white slopes reflected the sun back onto our faces, to avoid our cheeks burning, we would draw lines across them with neon pinks, blues, greens, yellows.

I have a tube of this in blue that I have kept for decades now out of nostalgia. When would I ever buy another tube of zinka in my life? I have held onto this because it reminds me of how my life could have gone, how I still pursued my dreams, and how I was at one point in my life, a professional downhill skier. I am finding letting go of this small tube a challenge. Isn’t it intriguing how we can become attached to things that to another may seem trivial? It’s just a tube of blue paste after all. I have created an entire history around this tube, it is my own attachment that I have created uniquely. If I am able to create an attachment to a tube, then I should also be able to create non-attachment to it. And the only reason I am able to let this go, is because I am cheating and keeping a pair of ski goggles from back in the day, to remind me as well.

So on Day 16 of my 365 Release, I am letting go of holding onto nostalgia. I am still holding onto another piece of it, but I may never let go of that because this part was also a huge defining moment of who I am today. And today, I observe that the object itself is much easier to let go of  than the memories. But instead of grasping on to the object, I am pushing myself to let go, to see what that feels like. So I can learn and grow. I’m going to smear zinka from this tube on the cheeks of everyone that goes skiing with me from now on until the last drop, so that I can share my past and present. Who cares if we look silly? We will don some war paint and fly down the mountain, always following our dreams.

 

[I created the 365 Release Project to practice non-attachment, letting go and change by giving away 1 thing a day for 1 year. The background, vision and guidelines to the 365 RELEASE project are here. The running list of everything I have released is here.]


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