This is my favorite part. The deadline is near, the training is intense. The opportunities for lessons learned are everywhere. The vehicle to those lessons is the skiing. But the lessons learned are all round the skiing.
I have been working on something specific, trying to make a change in my skiing that is appantly really hard for me to make. It's been three months of work to try to deepen my understanding.
I really enjoy this part of the learning process, and I was lucky enough to have about three weeks of dedicated training in which to diagnose the problem, train towards changing the movement, check my understanding, refocus my diagnosis, refine the movement. This meant drilling at slow speeds on groomed easy runs, which for me is the fun part! Yay!
This movement pattern is important, fundamental, and I didn't want to take it off piste or in the bumps until I had made, and kept to some extent, this change in my skiing. I kept bumping into the opportunity to see if I could stick with it.
So the fun part for me is learning to enjoy the bottleneck. When the movement isnt changing. Or when ive felt the change, but I can't keep it for some reason. It's like walking into a wall over and over again. And you want the change, and you've put the time in, and you've been so disciplined about sticking with no other thought in your skiing other than this one singular piece.
You have digested it, turned it over and inside out, broken it down into pieces and put it back into its whole again. And you can't own it. And you have a choice. You can say, screw it, this is frustrating, I need to blow out the cobwebs, or I'm going home, or I want to play in the bumps. Or, you can find a creative way to back off but stay with the thought.
We are here to make this change. So I begin to look for the thrill in the idea of pushing though. All the emotional stuff comes up. I suck, I've gotten as far as i will get. I don't get it. I may never get it. And we go out and drill again. I have learned, over time, to observe these emotions with curiosity rather than with judgement. I know when I hear those voices that are telling me to back off that I am getting close. That becoming comfortable with that place where I am SUCKING at this is the place where the learning takes place, it's the place where's the beginners mind is. It's a scary freakin place!
And it's a place that not a lot of people understand. "Why do you take this so seriously, Howe?" I hear this a lot. "you need to just go out and ski. Stop thinking."
The thing is, that doesn't really work for me. I like this part! I don't have a problem not focusing, thats the easy part. I don't have a problem going out for a fun run. But nurturing the discipline to problem solve my way through the bottleneck of frustration leads to the most wonderful openings and deepenings.
There is bliss on the other side of frustration. And feeling the frustration as an opportunity to grow even more specific and disciplined is where the lesson lies for me this time.
We had to go back days in a row before we could pick up where we left off. But my understanding changed, and my skiing changed. And I skied it for another three days, just to be sure that I got it, from all sides, and then, oh man, I took it off piste. I had my fun runs. And it was like eating desert.