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My Journey

Lessons from Learning to Snowboard and Falling Over 300 Times

I’m happy to be able to put another notch on the ole belt.

Last week I visited Lake Tahoe with friends I haven’t seen in 5 years. The reunion was long overdue.

I was especially excited about this trip because, 26 years into this journey called life, it was the first time I’d see snow. Hardly an accomplishment for anyone living outside the tropics but, after more than a few near misses, it was finally going to happen for me.

I usually research the activities I’ll be doing when I travel beforehand but the habit somehow eluded me this time round. I did absolutely no background investigation on snowboarding; a complacency that proved painful once I hit the slopes.

On day one I found myself absolutely terrified looking at the slope ahead, and frustrated by the board’s tendency to take off down it with a clear disregard for whether I was prepared to go or not. There are hardly better examples of what one can describe as a crash course. Two runs (and lots of tumbles) on the beginner slope were all I got before we began our ascent to the summit of the mountain—my much more skilled peers weren’t in the mood to babysit all day.

We had to take 4 lifts to get there, and by the time I made it onto the second, I had broken one of the straps for my right foot binding. Things would only get better from here on.

Just when we reached the summit, strong winds snd snowfall engulfed the mountain—complete whiteout conditions.

There I found myself experiencing my first snowfall in stormy conditions on a snowboard with a broken binding at 10,000 feet with only one way down. Oh, and I should add the dehydration and exhaustion of traveling 18 hours to get there and having had drinks with the guys the night prior.

It was the recipe for disaster.

You could easily guess that I spent most of my time on the way down picking myself up off the ground and crawling out of the path of other boarders and skiers.

At the close of day I was battered, bruised, cold and deflated but I had made it. And that alone was immensely encouraging. Despite all the falls, harsh conditions and exhaustion, I fought it through to the end.

I was convinced it could only get better from here and so it was. On days 2 and 3, I felt much more confident and most importantly I picked up a lot less bruises. Beyond that, I had this gorgeous reward waiting for me on the final day out:

Every step of the way, I used the challenge of snowboarding as a metaphor for other aspects of life.

There will be trying times. Giving up always seems like a rational and painless solution but I'm one of the crazy ones that believes that without risk there is no reward.

If I gave up on the first day when my binding broke, or after my first 100 falls, I would have experienced a lot less pain but I would also have missed out on all the experiences that followed.

Anything worth pursuing should be done relentlessly and it’s value determined rigorously because that’s the only way wishes become reality.

"Success is getting up just one more time than you fall."