The other day as I drove by the local ice skating rink at one of our parks, I found myself traveling down memory lane. One year for Christmas, my entire family received ice skates. I believe I was around ten years old at the time. My skates were a beautiful white, matching what my mother and two younger sisters had been given, with one exception. My sisters' skates had training wheels. At least that's what my brother and I called them. (Incidentally, his skates as well as my father's were shiny black.) My sisters' skates possessed two blades on the bottom, making it easier for these two, who were then about ages 5 and 2 respectively, to navigate on ice.
We lived near Snake River in a little Idaho town. Down the road from our house an old gravel pit existed. Because of its proximity to the river, this pit always filled up with water, making it the perfect place to ice skate in the winter.
What a glorious time we had trying out our new skates. For some reason I took to that like a duck to water. I had always enjoyed watching ice skating performances on television with my mother. Now I envisioned myself as a graceful professional ice skater, twirling around on the ice with ease. There were a few bumps and bruises at first, but for the most part, I loved to ice skate. Until one day at school.
I was in the fifth grade and my teacher that year was a gentleman we'll call Mr. Dufus, to protect the guilty party. ;) Most people don't believe this now, but I was quite shy during most of my grade school years. During my fourth grade year, we had moved to Bountiful, Utah as my father tried his hand at the management program for Skaggs Drug. (He was a pharmacist.) Deciding he didn't care for retail management, we moved back to Idaho for my fifth grade year. We had returned to our former home in the same small town, but by then, all of my old friends had moved on and I was feeling quite left out of things.
Too shy to strike up new friendships, I kept mostly to myself, especially during recess. This proved to be a bad thing. One afternoon I stood on top of a huge pile of snow, watching as some of the other kids were sliding around with their shoes on a makeshift ice skating rink formed by melted snow that had frozen solid. Spotting me, Mr. Dufus called out to a young man my age and told him to run up, grab me by the hand, and take me for a nice turn on the ice.
What happened next is still rather a blur. Obediently following through on our teacher's instructions, this enthusiastic young man ran up the snow hill, grabbed me by the hand, and dragged me down onto the ice. We hit the ice with such force, I went flying. The next thing I remember is lying down in what we called the infirmary with a serious nosebleed. I had hit the ice face-first, effectively knocking me silly for quite some time.
When I slowly regained my fetchies, I was told that I had probably broken my nose and my mother would be coming to get me. Good times. ;) My coat and clothes were saturated with blood. My nose was swelling, and my head felt like it was going to explode. My mother was not happy by what she saw when she arrived and she demanded to know what had happened. Before I could say anything to defend my honor, she was told that I had been sliding around on the ice and had taken a nasty fall. It wasn't until later that I was able to tell her the whole story. Then she was furious with my teacher. So was I, for that matter.
I know my teacher had meant well, but this little experience cost me dearly. From that point on, whenever I tried to ice skate, images of what I had endured surfaced, and I became a cautious skater. My confidence was gone. I found myself dreading ice skating adventures and after a time, I hung up my skates for good.
I'm sad about that now. I doubt I would have ever become a professional ice skater, but looking back, I missed out on a lot of fun because I allowed doubting fear to creep in. I suspect most of us do that from time to time. We have a bad experience and it colors how we view things from that point on.
I doubt I'll ever take up ice skating again, not because of the fear factor now, but because I tend to hurt myself enough with ordinary every day adventures like putting up tents at girls' camp. ;) But my former love of ice skating might be coming through now as I continue to enjoy the fine art of snow shoeing. I know---not a good comparison, but it is a new adventure for me and I'm loving it. And I refuse to allow the Mr. Dufuses of the world to ruin it for me. (This means you, Brandy, the silly doggie I tripped over with my snow shoes the other day, but I digress.)
Someday, my cute little granddaughter may decide to try her hand at something like ice skating. I wish I could always be there to thwart anyone who messes with her confidence level. Instead, maybe I can set an example for her as I continue to try out new things in my quest to enjoy mortal mode. I can face fear(s) with courage, pushing forward despite inner obstacles. I was once terrified of flying. I still have to pretend I'm just riding a noisy bus during take-off, and I don't care for turbulence, but I love looking out the window as we soar across the sky, looking at the patterns below. I have flown enough now, that it doesn't bother me as much. And I love to travel, so being able to fly is crucial. I suspect this is true with regard to other things. Let go of fear and fly---the only way to fully enjoy this life. ;)
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