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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.
I’ve noticed myself saying something new over the last year. When trying something hard or new to me in the winter, specifically, I hear myself say “I’m OK with falling.”
I’m OK with falling? OK with it? Who are you, Amy? How did this happen??
If you’ve been listening to Outdoor Diary episodeys for awhile, you’ve heard me tell the story about the first time I went skiing, and how I announced it would definitely be my last time. Spoiler alert: it was not my last time, though I did keep my “no skiing” rule in effect for many years.
But the reason I wanted it to be my last ski visit? The falling. First there was falling as I got off the lift. Then there was continuous falling into what I have to say were very cold snow banks as I made my way down what seemed like a huge hill but probably wasn’t.
Since then I haven’t just fallen in the snow- – no no! After buying a bike with pedal clips I spent a lot of time simply falling off as I tried to figure out how to unclip. Brand new information to me sometime after that: you can adjust the clips so they’re easier to get out of. Who knew? But I of course didn’t learn that until a neighbor literally called the on-base military police to see who this person was who was riding around simply tipping off her bike onto the ground over and over again, but at a spectacularly slow speed. Awesome.
After moving to Alaska in 2016 my rate of falling skyrocketed because i started spending a lot of time in snow, which is both extra trippy and slidey, and softer to fall on then, say, bare rocks. It also feels inevitable if you’re going to ever do anything outside in the winter at all.
I’ve fallen skiing downhill. Ive fallen skiing uphill. I’ve fallen skiing on what seems like somewhat flat ground. I’ve fallen snowshoeing uphill, downhill and on flat. Sometimes I fall standing stock still because I slip on ice — now that takes talent, but can also be more dangerous. Ice is a lot harder than snow. The one time I’ve tried a snowboard, I fell over and over again for 90 minutes.
Unlike Buzz Lightyear, I’m neither flying nor falling with style.
Trust me when I say the fact that Ive gone nordic skiing up a hill three times this season and havent wiped out on any of them is a miracle from on high. I think I overwaxed my skis to make it possible, but I do not care. It happened. I have some witnesses.
But you get the idea. By virtue of the fact that I’m out there trying the things, I fall a lot. It seems inevitable. Maybe not for you — but it is for me.
And here’s the kicker: I’m OK with it out there in the snow, and I’ve noticed that I’ve become OK with it in here in my house, too.
Now, I do not LITERALLY fall down a lot in my house. That would be problematic and dangerous. But I fall down periodically figuratively whether it be failures at work, or bad communication in relationships, or burned dinner. It happens.
I used to do everything I could possibly do to never, ever put myself in a situation where falling down was likely. I used to only try things I knew I would be good at, or take tiny risks that wouldn’t be an actual fail if they didn’t work. I found comfort in routine because it was low risk. I cooked familiar meals that I knew we all would like.
But once I started learning to fall outside — and that falling not only wasn’t a death sentence, but would eventually lead to me falling less while accomplishing cool stuff — I started slowly learning to fall inside, too.
It’s opened up incredible options. What are my life limits if I’m willing to fall a little? I’m not out here flying myself off a proverbial cliff, but what about the potential falls with softer, snow-life landings. They’re embarrassing. They sting a little. They might give you a surprising amount of face rash or snow packed into your ears, but the trade off is gaining new skills, having more rewarding relationships, tasting incredible things, feeling great about yourself and living a fulfilling life.
So yes, this is me now. I’m OK with falling. And when it feels a little too risky, I take a step back and remember what I’ve learned, and try again.
Lest you think I made it without falling during all five of my nordic ski adventures so far this year — three up in the pass and two on the trails behind my house — I must tell you that I did not. I fell very ungraciously twice on what was not aggressive downhills in the woods behind my house, wiping out spectacularly into the bushes once. And since this week I rented a snowboard for the season, you can be sure that Ill be falling a lot here in the not too distant future. Downhill ski areas should open in early to mid December. Falling will be a thing.
You can see photos of my falls and everything else I do outside on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. And post yours too — please let some of them be fails, dont just leave me out here in the woods on this — and tag #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.