I’m not especially athletic, so any thought of attempting anything resembling a sport always makes me break out into a sweat. And yet, I always go into a new activity with the dangerous assumption that learning it will only take, at most, ten minutes. That deep down inside, I’m a prodigy that will blow away the competition with a display of physical prowess that will make all the ladies nearby swoon.

Instead, I always find out that learning any sport requires a certain amount of willful stubbornness, the willingness to withstand painful falls and an unflappability in the face of perpetual humiliation.

I’m bringing all of this up because I went snowboarding a few days ago and I still emit a girlish shriek if I happen to sit on my tail bone. There was one point during my snowboarding career where I managed to fall down no less than five times in a five minute period. At that point, I was a few seconds from snapping my ‘board in half and running into the lodge in a fit of petulant rage.

Instead, I went back up the hill again with “Eye of the Tiger” running through my head. I got off the ski lift, bound and determined to get down the hill in one go. Instead, I continued to leave a series of splat-shaped holes in the snow. Riding up the lift, one could see the clawing marks I made in an attempt to keep myself from sliding down the slope after each of m spectacular falls.

And then, for whatever reason, I got it. There was no fanfare, no epiphany. I just…stopped falling so much. And then I was making it down the run at a brisk pace without falling at all. And I was enjoying myself! It had gone from a painful exercise in pain to being fun, so much so that I want to go back again.

And maybe next time I’ll try that toe-side thing that people keep mentioning.

Dylan Charles


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