Portillo and the art of letting go

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When I went to Portillo (Chile), a ski resort up in the mountains, two hours away from the main airport, Arturo Merino Benitez (located in Santiago), I knew that skiing would be an amazing experience. I had never done it before, and I admit – it wasn’t on my priority list of things-to-do-before-I-die. But this freelance journalistic opportunity came up, and by the time I processed everything, I was flying to Chile. And I was excited to learn how to ski.

In three days I was in the medium downhill course, which was really impressive if you take into consideration that I am, for all accounts, one of the clumsiest persons known to human race. Even then though, I was just moving with the flow, hearing what the teacher said and following the instructions with the concentration of a toddler watching TV.

It happened at the end of the third day. The instructor took me to this absurdly steep hill (level semi-hard) and told me to go. I went, underestimating the velocity that gravity would create. When I realized how fast I was, I expected to feel fear, even terror. Ever since I’ve known myself, I have always felt complete panic when faced with a situation where one mistake could lead to real and possibly fatal pain. So I braced myself for the impact of fright.

But something amazing happened. For what must have been a split second of hesitation, I realized I was not yet afraid. It was like my life had been momentarily paused and I was given the time to choose between fear and excitement. It was literally a choice. Door one or door two. Knowing of all my previous ones, I decided that I would try something new that day. That I would be the brave girl I always wanted to be.

So I let go of fear.

A new, impressively massive sensation filled my body like a sudden explosion: freedom. I will never be able to express how carelessly free I felt. I closed my eyes, opened my arms, screamed my lungs out, and for a few seconds, that was it. The reason for it all. For why it is so essential to let go, to give yourself to the moment, and just live. It was one of the most memorable seconds of my life, and such a gift that I always smile when it comes back to me.

Then the ski instructor was crying out like a mad man, and racing towards me with deep concern in his eyes. He caught my arm at the last minute, and when he stopped me I realized I almost flew like a wingless bird into the great emptiness of the abyss ahead. Which I should have seen it, but I didn’t because I had my eyes closed. Maybe I should have been scared then.

But, like when I was gliding fast on the snow, I was only fulfilled. Of adrenaline. Of emotion. Of shock. Of happiness. So I laughed – and earned an angry look from him. My heart though, my heart was too fast to react appropriately. I kept my smile for the rest of the day.

And you know why? Because that’s the thing about letting go. You feel like there is no reason to keep the smile out of your face. So you don’t.

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