Sledding Champion of the World

I positioned myself, grabbed hold of the handles, tucked in my legs and asked for a push. And off I went…

While I’d like to say that I zooomed down the hill on my sled at maximum speed, slicing and dicing my way through the snow, hitting jumps and gliding through the air with such beauty and grace and consequently impressing everyone around me, the actual version involved a great deal of unplanned twisting and turning, a bizarre amount of time spent moving backwards, flying through the air in such a painfully clumsy mess, nearly taking out several small children along the way and eventually crashing into, and breaking, a mesh fence or two.

If there’s one thing I told my friends before arriving in Annecy, France for New Years was that I would not be partaking in any outdoor activities. After all, cold weather is not my friend and I truly cannot stand to be outside for more than a few minutes when it is less than 0C/32F.

Of course, on my second day here, after a few glasses of wine and some heavy nagging from my friends, I somehow ended up agreeing to go sledding. Before I knew it, I was in a car that was driving over the Forclaz Pass in the French Alps, climbing higher and higher towards the snow. My friends were all energetically chatting away during that ride, completely prepared with their snow pants and waterproof boots, with their ultra-warm gloves and heavily-insulated jackets. And there was I, horrified at spending time outside, stuck wearing my 10-year old, worn-out sweat pants, the most non-waterproof hiking shoes on the planet, and a ‘winter’ jacket I picked up in H&M for $30 bucks and that protects me from the cold as much as wrapping myself up in lettuce would protect me.

Nonetheless, I soon found myself standing at the top of a hill, fully dreading the fact that I would soon have to get on a sled. And before I knew it, I was indeed on a sled, slowly accelerating as I immediately veered far away from my intended path.

Yes, I crashed. Yes, I rolled through the snow. Yes, ice went into my pants and soaked my rear end. And yes, I was frozen like never before as I laid sprawled out at the bottom of the hill.

Oh, and yes, I forgot to mention that I absolutely loved it all. I loved it just as much as I did when I would go sledding as a kid on Chemung Hill, a good-sized hill located right behind the elementary school I attended. I loved this sledding session so much in fact, that I kept going down that hill, and the several other hills we visited yesterday, over and over again, despite the cold, despite my wet pants (from the snow!!), despite icicles hanging from my nose and despite the sub-freezing temperature of the air.

My friends and I had a genuine blast as we continued to crash and roll, to set speed records (at least in our own minds), to fly through the air, to compete with each other, and to be the only adults on sleds for miles around, screaming and laughing the entire time. Each time I finished a ‘run’ down the hill, I would stand up and give a few high fives, pump my fist in the air and wave to my imaginary fans, all while feeling as if I was indeed the sledding champion of the world.

Sledding in Annecy, France

Sledding Champion of the World

And amazingly, I now shake my head at the idea that I would have missed out on all this good craziness, and being champion of the world, had I stuck to my original plan of never going outside. What a crappy trip to France that would have been. Lesson learned.

What lesson?

Sometimes you just need to try things you don’t think you would enjoy. You might be surprised.

We all have our set ways, we all have our own ‘rules’, our own likes and dislikes as we move through life. But we owe it to ourselves to evaluate how we live from time to time. Just because I haven’t liked cold weather for the past ten years doesn’t mean that I should avoid it forever. We all change and what we once did not enjoy, or what we once might have thought uninteresting or even unbearable, might one day prove to be quite the opposite. And even if we discover that we still don’t enjoy something, it doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun or enjoy certain aspects of it in the process.

It’s not as if this one sledding experience has convinced me to move to the Alps during winter and then hop down to the Andes Mountains in May each year in order to catch another season of pure coldness. I’m still looking forward to the next time I’ll be on a white sand beach, soaking up the sun, as much as I was the day before I went sledding.

However, by forcing myself to do something I wouldn’t ordinarily do, I managed to have an experience that proved to be immensely enjoyable and memorable, an experience that I now would not have wanted to miss out on at all. And as a result, I think I’ll start doing things I typically don’t enjoy more often. I just might discover that I’ve changed.

Seems like a good lesson to learn on this second-to-last day of the year.

Happy New Year!!

Is there something you usually would never do that you might want to try again? Have you been in a similar situation?