I bought a new snowboard yesterday. It is the most beautiful snowboard in all of the land, although I feel a little guilty that I evened factored prettiness into the equation. Not so guilty I didn’t buy new bindings to best compliment it, even though I had perfectly good bindings already.
Buying a new board got me thinking about how I first into snowboarding. I didn’t do a lot of things back then that were athletic or hard or scary. I think I shunned sports entirely because my stepdad told me in the sixth grade that I wasn’t athletically inclined. And because I’m a perfectionist. Tell me I’m not good at something, make me think I’ll never be the absolute best at it, and my first thought is to go do something that I can be best at. My foray into snowboarding has really been realization that a lot of the childhood lessons my parents taught me were a bit fucked up and I am free from the struggle of carrying that weight around with me everywhere I go. And it has also been acceptance that it’s OK not to be perfect after all. Who knew snowboarding could be such a psychological exercise.
I’m better than I used to be, but somehow I don’t think that years after I’m gone, my legacy will “totally kicked ass at snowboarding”. But even so, I’ve stuck with it for five years, and I love it more every time I go out.
It’s been a crazy five years. When I look back on my life, I see it distinctly divided into two parts: when I did what I thought everyone else wanted and when I did what I wanted. The line is more like a hill than a cliff though, as the “did what everyone else wanted” part was hard to let go of and lingered on. It’s still lingering. In some ways, it’s easier to live life according to what you think will make everyone else happy and to sacrifice yourself. Those choices are clear. When you start to put yourself into the equation, you’re by default doing things less for everyone else and things aren’t so clear anymore. What’s the right balance? Life becomes a series of adjustments and trial and error.
Five years ago, I never would have guessed that I would be here now. Sometimes I feel exhausted looking back, and I know that the climbing just continues. But mostly I feel light and hopeful and free. Exactly how I feel when I’m snowboarding down the mountain.