Last weekend I had to lean into fear.
I was enrolled in a cross-country skiing camp in Bend. A friend of mine was going and invited me to join him.
Jeff is a beautiful skate skier. And, in my eyes, there is nothing more graceful and beautiful than skate skiing. It is like a dance done in conversation with nature. To see someone, almost effortlessly, ski up a hill, one glide at a time, is awe inspiring.
I have been cross-country skiing since I was a kid. I was self-taught, an early adopter of this sport out in Northern Ohio. I would spend hours practicing, gliding around an oval in my backyard, kick, glide, extend, over and over again. I found great solace in the practice.
But, when I went back East for college, I found the skiers there were far better than I. They had been coached and had learned how to race at an early age. They were also not intimidating by the 90 degree turn at top speeds in the middle of a narrow track in the woods.
So I stopped skiing. At least with any great expectations of my potential. And I certainly was intimidated when a new form of cross-country skiing came along, skate skiing.
A ski camp in Bend. This is where future Olympians move to for training. And I had only been on skate skies half a dozen times.
But I went. I trusted my friend and I knew that, with him there, I would be okay. Even though it would be far outside my comfort zone.
And it was. Several of the coaches were former Olympians and most of the campers had been skiing for several years. When we broke out into groups, it was clear that I was the least experienced skier in the least experience group.
I felt like a first grader walking into a classroom of 9th graders.
My coach on the first day, was not just a normal coach. He coached coaches of future Olympians.
And there was me, not even knowing the difference between V1 and V2 techniques, much less how to get up a hill without looking like a fool.
But he didn't teach skate techniques. He taught about what it felt to be on skies. How to feel the mysterious movement of skies as you make a "V" shape and bring them on edge. How to commit to a glide.
And I began to understand.
In our break, I sat with him and I shared how hard it was for me to feel so vulnerable as a learner, one where I had to lean into my fear of being judged.
He began to share his own stories of vulnerability and how he has to go to that place each time he teaches. Without doing that, he couldn't listen deeply and understand how each individual needed to be taught at that moment in their lives. For him to see their potential and empower them so that they can achieve the greatness within them.
I have returned from the mountain, learning a deep lesson about my own Shadow Curtain and the importance of leaning into fear.