"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey

Monday, February 13, 2012

Wild Bunny Hill Graduation

This is not me, but it's pretty much what I look like on the slopes at this point.

By the way, that caption is quite a sarcastic over-exaggeration, in case you are socially challenged and can't tell.

Last Friday, I went snowboarding for the third time this season, which means I went snowboarding for the third time in my life.  It had been at least a month since the previous time, and I was afraid that any minuscule progress I might have made was certainly lost in the gap.   I expected to start all over again - falling off of the lift, falling when I stand, falling down the hill, pretty much just falling.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that my body had retained the muscle memory.  I stood rather easily on the board, and my first time down the bunny hill that night was also my first time all the way down the hill without falling once!  I was thrilled.  Oldman suggested that I move on to the green slope, but I wanted to take one more trip down the bunny hill just to be sure that first run wasn't a fluke.  The second time down the bunny hill was successful as well.  I was ready.

The lift up to the green slope was faster and longer than the bunny hill lift.  I knew right away that I was in for some more challenging boarding.  Add to that the fact that the line to even get onto the lift was longer, and the hill itself was much more crowded.  More people to possibly run into, or who might run into me when I'm sprawled out from a fall.  This was serious business.

To my delight, I remained mostly vertical.  Not only did I stay upright, but my board was beginning to actually do what I wanted it to do.  Before, I felt completely at the mercy of this board that was throwing me downhill willy-nilly in every which way.  Now I was able to use toe side and heel side turns to navigate around other people, away from the edge, and around curves.  I could use my heel side perpendicularly against the hill to brake when I wanted to slow down, whereas before the only strategy I had for slowing down was to hurl myself butt-first onto the hill and roll to a stop.  For the first time, I felt like I was actually snowboarding - not just falling down the slope with a snowboard attached to my feet.

I graduated from the bunny hill!

And this, my friends, is where I began to see the metaphor.  I turn 30 in less than two weeks.  I've been thinking a lot about all that I know now that I didn't in my twenties.  Mostly, how I deal with situations that arise in my life differently than I would have in my twenties.

For example, Oldman and I have been navigating some to-be-expected and less-than-pleasant relationship "stuff" lately.  (Hey it's the three month mark - the shit always hits the fan around then, am I right?)  In the past, I might have responded with desperate clinging, sad ploys for attention, and very unflattering displays of rage followed by bouts of uncontrollable crying and self-loathing.  (Aren't you regretting that you didn't date me in my twenties?  I was a ball of fun.)  This time, I just went to spaworld by myself instead.

Or all this struggle I've been having at work this year - being crazily overworked with 50-65 hour workweeks at a job that I know I don't want anymore.  In the past, I would have sulked my way through the day, taken fake sick days, and tried to break my contract and quit early.  This time, for the most part, I have been staying present, looking for the gems in each day, and laughing at the chaos.

You might say, in essence, that I've graduated from the bunny hill.  As I approach 30, I am moving on to the green slope of life.

Now of course I didn't always choose the most mature reaction to the above situations.  Of course there was some minor clinging and crying in regards to the relationship stuff, and of course there were some sulky days and fantasizing about cutting the cord early at work.  But WAY less than before.  The duration of my unpleasant reactions was much shorter, and much less intense.  Just like with snowboarding - even though I "graduated" to the green slope, I still fell sometimes.  Even though I mostly knew how to control my board, I still spun around a few times accidentally.

I'm sure there will be more reflective posts in the next couple of weeks about turning 30.  For now, suffice to say that I am grateful to be moving on to greener pastures.  I am more than happy to leave that bumpy bunny hill behind.