Spring skiing, there is nothing like it. Especially if you're talking about spring skiing in Colorado. It is that perfect time of year when, if you're lucky, you can grace down the side of a mountain in a t-shirt and sunglasses. Well, and pants, boots, and skis, of course. The bitter cold months of winter are far behind, with nothing but a raccoon sunburn and sore muscles ahead!
I was fortunate enough this year to spend seven days in a beautiful home just outside of Breckenridge with some of my favorite people on the planet. I had been to the home once before over the Fourth of July last year. Needless to say, the view, the terrain, and definitely the temperature were all drastically different. This would be my first spring skiing session stuck on the sidelines and not pushing my body to its athletic limits.
I didn't really think much about this before the trip, but it has probably been 18 months since the last time I was able to engage in any type of athletic or "sporting-related" activity. There was this strange mix of emotions throughout the trip. Here I was with friends and family in a beautiful home with a beautiful setting, and yet I found myself frustrated or maybe even a little angry. You would think this tandem of emotions would be more common in my day-to-day life as I live with ALS, a disease that has made daily activities like tying my shoes and cutting my own steak difficult, if not impossible altogether. Those are both fixable, though: they're called loafers and a hot date! But I can't have someone ski down a mountain for me.
I may have never been the first pick when it came to sports, but I was never the last pick either. But for one day on the trip, I was literally left home with the women and children, as if the others were heading out to the Oregon Trail and not just a morning ski session. This type of adversity -- the type that is slow-moving and does not require instant action -- seems to me to be the most difficult to overcome. However, the flipside of that is, because it is slow-moving and probably here to stay, you do have time to devise a plan, to adjust, to adapt.
So while my skiing days might be few and far between until we find a treatment for this disease, that's okay if, and only if, I realize the importance of harnessing that frustration and anger and channeling it into more valuable assets. After all, though leaders from generals to head coaches are never actually on the battlefield, that doesn't diminish their importance. Understanding long-term adversity can actually be seen as a blessing in disguise. When you think about it in terms of playing the same team over and over again, soon you start to notice patterns, tells, and weaknesses. And you can find ways to emerge victorious.
My feet may be stuck in the snow, but that doesn't mean I won't try to move that mountain with a little help from my friends.