One of the most sage pieces of advice I received growing up was “pick your line and commit.” My dad worked as a ski patroller, in addition to his day job as a private investigator, so we could spend our weekends on the slopes.
This past week, as my husband was talking to our teenage boys’ about mountain biking on Galbraith Mountain in Bellingham, WA, he told them, “you have to pick your line and commit.” When he said those words, I had one of those moments where the past perfectly joins the present in a way that prepares me for the future. Do you know what I mean?
Don’t be afraid
As many of you know, when you pick your line and commit, you visualize your path down the slope and you get into the flow. When fear creeps in or we doubt our path, that is when we crash or even worse, retreat without trying. Taking the advice from the mountains into every day typically works seamlessly, but for many reasons, it feels harder to “pick my line and commit” in 2020. I keep hearing from others’ things I am also feeling at times, “there is so much uncertainty” or “it is so hard to know what to do next” or “I am scared about the future.”
To be perfectly honest, ambiguity seemed more delicious when I was basking in the Portuguese sun, trekking New Zealand’s Great Walks, skiing in the Italian Alps, and planning our next adventure. But I know how superficial that definition of satisfaction is, and I know I need to stop busying myself with what isn’t possible right now.
It is easy to feel bogged down with everyone working and learning from home as the rain descends on the Pacific Northwest, border closed signs flashing as Canada is in sight but not accessible to us right now. It is easy to fall into a pattern of dreading ambiguity versus feeling the excitement of it. It is easy but it isn’t healthy and I know better… The more ambiguity there is, the more opportunity there is.
So the question is now, how do I pick my line and commit when so many questions are unanswered?
Start with what you know
Finding things to appreciate in the here and now is the number one easiest way to change negative feelings about uncertainty into feelings of excited anticipation.
For me, I love picking Washington apples and baking cobblers in the fall. I love that we are on the same continent as our parents and much of our extended family. I love that due to school closures, I get to have lunch with my middle and high school kids. I love that we have a fireplace to build crackling fires. I love family movie night and the vegan food truck down the street. I love planning future travels while remembering past adventures. What about you? What do you love about your life right now?
Move to what you hope
Once there is momentum in the way of appreciation, it is time to plant seeds for the future in the form of dreams.
For me, I dream of seeing more of this big and complex world with my husband and children. I dream of lazy days with our extended family and friends all over the world in a way that connects us when we are not together. I hope for not just answers to climate change, but sustainable action in the way of soil regeneration and renewable energy. I hope for solutions to taking care of our world’s children, mind, body, and spirit. I hope to attend parties again where everyone hugs and greets each other without fear of spreading a virus. I dream about leadership that unites and spreads messages that breathe love and hope into our communities. And I know it all starts with me, with you, with each of us, feeling hope every day in little ways, whenever we can. What do you hope for?
Leave what makes you feel hopeless
I turned off all social media this summer because it wasn’t contributing to my feeling hopeful about the future. It is not turning a blind eye when taking control of what media or people we see. It is selectively taking care of ourselves first so that when there are great challenges before us, we are ready. Leave behind what makes you feel hopeless, at least for today, and always until you can think about whatever the obstacles are, and feel solutions bubbling strong enough to drown out the weight of carrying around hopelessness. What are you ready to leave behind?
So, Dad, I am picking my line. Every day, I will start with what I know is working, move to what I hope for the world, and leave what makes me feel hopeless. I am committing to finding delicious ambiguity right where I stand every single day that I am given.
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”― Epicurus