As a skier I had advanced, after a couple winters, to almost feeling comfortable on any blue trail and occasionally to skiing a black trail - if it was groomed - but I still suffered from one major problem. I fell too damn much.

My falls came despite the facts that I’d taken at least a dozen lessons from good instructors, including spending that week in the French Alps skiing every day with an excellent private instructor, and often skied with friends far better than I on the slopes who occasionally dropped a hint about the proper pole plant or holding my elbows in closer. Something was wrong.

On a beautiful spring ski day - strong sun, pleasant temperature, groomed slopes - I found myself sliding into a chairlift with a skier I didn’t know. For the usual mysterious reasons, the lift came to an abrupt stop halfway up. During the 10 minutes we swayed in the winter breeze without moving, we exchanged routine pleasantries, gossiped, and decided to take the same blue run from the summit together.

Edging off the lift at last, we stopped briefly to check the trail. He skied off first. I watched in envy as he carved his way swiftly and skillfully through the bumps, then shoved off to catch up with him.

He skidded to a stop and glanced over at me. I stopped in an embarrassingly familiar prone position. Once more, on our way to the bottom of the trail, I fell. As 1 got up from my second fall, digging the snow out of my ear and brushing the powder off my jacket, I said, “You make it look so easy.”

He smiled. “Thanks. You’ve got good style. But could I offer a suggestion?”

“Of course.”

“Let go of the mountain.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You know what you’re doing? You’re holding onto the mountain with your mind. You keep falling when it’s a bit steep or difficult. Let go of the mountain.”

We started down. I repeated to myself what I’d just heard. “Let go,” I told myself.

After we parted, I kept mulling over what he’d said - especially when I hit steep or difficult stretches.

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