Not so long ago, with a seven bold troubadours to keep me company, I went to France. I’ve been to France many times before but I’ve never skied there. Partly this trip was just a random happenstance and a moment where I decided to go do a new thing, partly this trip marked the end of what has been an intensely difficult year.
I loved being in France. It was a different kind of trip for me altogether. In Iceland I left a piece of myself behind determined to return someday. In Canada I found a part of myself I’d forgotten was missing. In France I think I learnt that I am capable of almost anything.
No time for jotting a few notes down before bed or reading for a crit partner before breakfast, in France I completely and utterly wore my body down. I skied until I couldn’t walk, went to bed, got up, and then skied some more. I cried (at least once) in the middle of a busy slope. I fell over a lot.
I was certain I’d broken my skis on three separate and distinct occasions during which I told nobody what I was thinking as I kicked my boot against my skis because I felt like it was probably not a great idea to seed (slight) panic at the top of some very big mountains.
At one point, being a(n occasional) hypochondriac, a writer, and an owner of an over-active imagination, I googled the symptoms and signs of a broken finger.
I also fell over. A lot.
I went over jumps. I skied backwards. I learnt how to schuss fearlessly. I hummed tunes to myself, and joined in sing-alongs on chairlifts. I pushed every part of myself to the limit, and only ever noticed in the middle of night went I wasn’t pushing so hard.
A week later, I have two bruises on my palms — one on each hand — from a particularly spectacular fall on some accidental moguls. Several days on and I still can’t feel my little toe on my right foot — it went numb some few days in protesting ski boots, cold, or maybe just doing activity in general.
There’s something very meaningful about pushing yourself to a limit, finding it, and being able to stay there delicately balanced on the edge for a while. All too often I think we fear our limits, both the physical and mental, because of the danger that lies beyond them. The risk of going beyond what you’re capable of is very real but I think there’s an argument for, just occasionally, climbing up to that edge and waving into the abyss.
If I can do this then I can surely do anything — that’s the thought that echoed around the slopes during our week in France.
France has reminded me that I am capable of almost anything, and for that I am truly grateful.