Went ice skating for the first time in ages. I had fond memories of skating as a child so I enthusiastically and rather confidently walked up to the rink, rented out the skates and put them on expecting to skate like a pro–or at least like an amateur skater.
But once I stood up in those skates, I was surprised by how difficult and, frankly, scary it was. At first, I had trouble balancing and for a split second there I wondered whether I’d be able to walk over to the rink, much less skate across it. Whew. Ice skating is a tough business!
But I remember skating when I was 8. I just got in the skates then soared across the ice without giving it much thought. Now I’m a clumsy adult. My ankles and feet must be stronger now than they were then. And wouldn’t my motor skills have improved? So what happened?
I grew up. Experiences. A past. A memory. ‘You can’t do that. That’s not appropriate. Someone of your (substitute whatever word you choose, i.e., “age,” “race,” “gender,” “class,” etc.) shouldn’t be doing that. That’s too hard. Try something else.’ As we grow, we learn some things, we unlearn some others. Like how to approach something for the very first time with zeal (not fear), for example.
Like ice skating.
I put on those skates and felt clumsier than a penguin at a ballet class! And there I was, the only adult on the rink. I watched the kids glide by and thought. What do they have that I don’t have? Innocence. The courage of innocence.
At first, I found myself questioning my ability to skate. What got me the courage to persevere is the memory of having done it before. I remember ice skating as a small child. If I could do that and survive as a child, I could do this as an adult, darn it! And watching those kids glide around made me a tad jealous. If they could do it, I could do it, dang it!
And so I did. I rented cheap, plastic, rather abnormal-looking skates and put them on. Woah! I need to walk in these things. And so I did. I stood up and, to my surprise, managed to walk, though rather awkwardly, across the padded floor toward the rink. Woah! I’m going to need to walk across ice–a slippery slope!–with these skates on… Okay, I did this when I was 8, I reminded myself. As a child I could skate. I should be able to do this now. I watched little tykes and their parents glide along the ice. I observed how they moved their skates along the ice. I even stopped a woman and asked her for advice on how to start and stop…on ice. And with no further ado, and very little thinking about it ahead of time (if I spent too much time thinking about it, I’d never make it on the ice), I stepped onto the ice–holding onto the railing for dear life, of course.
I needed to glide. Glide. One doesn’t walk across the ice in skates. That would make one fall. Plop! So I leaned forward onto my left foot and let it glide forward then the right foot hit the ice and I leaned into that glide. I held onto the railing for a long time until I realized that if I really wanted to skate I’d need to allow my feet to just glide across the ice and just be ready to lean into the slide as much or as little I’d need to depending on how fast I wanted to move. and so I began slipping across the ice, allowing the slippery ice to carry me along. As long as I let my skates just glide along the surface I was fine. Resistance was futile. If I tried resisting the ice, I’d fall. Instead I accepted it and just glided along with it. Then I was skating like the best of them. Now the only trick was to stop. I noticed that if I stopped leaning forward so much, that helped. And of course turning a skate slightly sideways or just moving the blade…..