This I Believe

Shane - Boise, Idaho
Entered on May 5, 2007

I believe in snowboarding: perfect snow, traveling at breakneck speeds, making every jump, avoiding everyone slower than me, and attacking the snow with violent fury; and I believe that the same principles of snowboarding apply to life. Snowboarding; This I believe.

I remember learning to snowboard. I went with two good friends who had been boarding for years. They promised to teach me the ropes and get me down the mountain safe and sound. But I didn’t pay attention to their instructions. I didn’t need all the advice and techniques they were teaching me. It was taking too long and all I wanted to do was shoot down the hill at insane speeds. I decided to go it alone and let them enjoy their day without having to baby sit the greenie. I rode to the top of the hill, stood on my board and went straight and fast. The snow was soft so my constant crashes didn’t hurt. The frequent wipe outs didn’t detract from the exhilaration I experienced shooting straight down the slope. My next adventure proved my folly. That next day’s snow was better suited for ice skates than a board. I limped from that hill injured enough to wonder if I would get to ride my Santa Cruz board a third time.

I realized my hubris and humbly asked my friends for help. They obliged and, the third time out, I sat on my butt and watched instead of ride. I slipped and fell my way down to a spot where I could detach from my ride and watch the more proficient boarders. I recalled my friends’ techniques and watched them applied by nameless shredders who glided effortlessly down the mountain. When I felt I understood one principle I tested it. Then I would sit again and try to understand another. I rode very little that day, but by the end I could ride.

I learned I can’t just barrel down the mountain believing that everything will be fine, that I can’t just trust to figure out each situation as it happens. I’ve learned the same of life. I need to learn from those who already have the knowledge and prepare for every possibility. I have reached the point where I can fly down the mountain, passing skiers and boarders alike. Sometimes the terrain isn’t what I expect or a fellow shredder cuts in my path unwittingly. These are a part of the sport, they slow me down, they scare me often, but they never cause me to panic. They never deter my ride.

Every now and then there is that day when there is no ice to be found, the sun is shining the snow falling — or that night where the mountain is a Christmas tree of flood lights and flakes swarm in the beams, a million sprites blessing my journey — and I can carve hard, jump high, and let my soul release. And I can fly.

I believe in snowboarding. I believe in using rules to free, in learning from others, and never letting a problem or obstacle keep me from my path. And, by using these same principles, I have learned to live a truly free life without fear of the unknown. I can fly.