Postcard from Vermont: Learning to Waterski

I waterskiied when I was a teenager. At least I think I did, I actually can't remember. I know I knee-boarded and skurfed and possibly tried other water sports with silly sounding names, mostly on a creek in New Jersey that everyone calls a "crick", and mostly because my daredevil boyfriend-at-the-time wanted me to.

I would never say I love any of the water sports I've tried. In general, I don't enjoy going fast and I've avoided any activity that is even vaguely dangerous since I was a little girl. I've known this about myself for some time, I fully accept this: I go slow.

Some people's brains just aren't wired to like adrenaline
, I say, confident and a touch defensive. Some people get high from adrenaline, some people get anxious. Me? I get anxious. I prefer to go slow.

There are always good reasons not to downhill ski or take a turn on the precarious rope swing or leap off a perfectly good cliff into a pool of water. First it was: I'm a dancer and I can't risk hurting my legs. Then it was: I'm a massage therapist and dancer and I can't risk hurting my arms or legs. Now it's: I'm a mom and I can't risk hurting any part of me.

Next up: I'm too old. I might break a hip.

I have a girl who gets anxious too. But she really, really likes to go fast.

Faster! Higher! She cries at every opportunity. I don't understand how she can have the anxious part of me but also love the adrenaline rush of high speed, tall heights, dangerous moments.

We talked about it this week after her first time tubing. When the boat speeds up and you feel your pulse quicken, is that fear or excitement? I asked her, wondering about it for myself too.

Both, she said.

And it is.

I got really scared when I got in the water to waterski today, I told Z, in confidence, one anxious female to another. But I took deep breaths and I focused on the positive and I tried to clear my mind any time worrying thoughts entered.

And then I was waterskiing.

If left to my own devices, I do prefer to go slow. I would have been content to never waterski as an adult. If not for my daredevil husband and his siblings who wanted to feel closer to their waterskiing dad, I would likely have passed from this world without ever having done it again. Even after trying it this week and enjoying it in spite of myself, I will continue to avoid the fast, the high, the scary, the dangerous. And I will probably always get anxious.

But I'm realizing that can all be true and I can still go fast, sometimes.

I can stand up even when the fall is inevitable.


Ann Wyse said...

Fear and excitement

and the same happy(?!?) smile on both your faces!

Awesome to be able to share.

momof3 said...

how wonderful that you and your daughter can share both your excitement and anxiety. You are teaching her that it's OK to be nervous.

shannon said...

Brave you!! Way to find some fun beyond the fear. I don't think I could do it.
Just wanted to share a book I'm reading right now on this very thing (you've probably already read it...)
Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. As an anxious mama and highly sensitive person, now I have yet another piece of the picture about myself and both my kids, plus some really helpful strategies to help them (and me) learn to cope with what often feels like bewildering behavior. My poor husband now can see that we are not just doing "something wrong."

It's a struggle to honour your temperament yet still know when it's ok to push yourself to grow beyond fear. Good for you finding a balance.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Shannon- Thanks for the book tip! I will add it to my library list.

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