I did something really stupid last week. I hiked an excruciating 1600 vertical feet to the top of a ridge along Luther Pass. I wanted to do some backcountry skiing, because that’s what the locals do in Tahoe. Never mind the fact that I don’t actually know how to ski.
Skiing fresh powder is supposed to be like skimming the whipped cream on top of an ice cream sundae. It’s like surfing inside a tube wave, where the world becomes silent and time slows down. It’s like achieving inner peace on a white velvet conveyor belt. So I hear –- I wouldn’t actually know.
When it came time to descend, I got scared. There were so many trees. Don’t worry about the trees, Buddy had told me. The trees will get out of your way.
The trees didn’t have to get out of my way. Every time I came within earshot of one, I panicked and tried to catch an edge. Then the ski would shoot into the soft powder, cross under the other ski, and I would eat a snow sandwich.
I was making a lot of mistakes. But the biggest mistake I made was being too risk-averse. What’s the worst that could happen? I wondered. I could go plowing into a tree. Then I would give it a little hug, and continue to spread love and mirth and blood down the mountain. Besides, how will I know where my limits are if I never exceed them?
Fine, I decided after I was ready to punch myself in the face. The trees will have to get out of my way.
And they did. And I stopped eating snow.
So own your mistakes — Learn from them. And be proud of them. If you’re not making any mistakes in life, you’re being too risk-averse.