The Power of Unrenegable Choices
The first time I went up the mountain on a ski lift, I panicked. Not because I was up super high above the ground. And not even because I knew, as someone who is already tragically uncoordinated enough on dry land, that strapping two slick, skinny pieces of fiberglass to my feet and sending me down a snowy hill was a horrible idea.
What panicked me, sitting on the lift that day, was the understanding that I had made a choice I couldn’t renege on.
The only way out is through, they say. And, just as surely: what goes up must somehow find its way down.
Precocious children know the power of the veto - how to bring the afternoon to a screeching stop by refusing to go along with the plans. And reluctant decision makers know the power of the u-turn. If we freak out and regret what we’ve agreed to, we can always fake an injury, excuse ourselves and turn the ship back toward shore.
This has been the guiding, unconscious principle of my entire adult life. I've been able to make difficult decisions relatively easily because I tell myself that I'm writing my YES or NO in pencil. I can always erase if I need to.
But when you’re dangling above a mountain, going higher and higher up toward the top, there is no back door to slip out of. You have to see the commitment through. The lift even gives a little push when it drops you off, like a mother shooing her kids out the door: “On your way now! Off you go!”
What if I don't want to go?! What if I'm not ready yet?! What if I've changed my mind?!
None of that matters to the ski lift or the mountain. They are just fixtures along the way to our destinies. All that matters is that we're delivered to certain intersections in our lives, the light turns green and we have to find a way to GO.
It’s terrifying to take the power of the u-turn away but when we do, our lives have the chance to transform, profoundly.
When we can’t duck out, when we can’t pull an excuse from our back pockets or let ourselves down, we are forced, instead, to show up fully and work through our discomfort to see what’s on the other side of it.
U-turns bring short term relief but they rob us of knowing our true power because they hold us back. We can’t experience the satisfaction of empowerment as long as we’re lost in resistance.
There have been other ski lift scenarios in my life. Having a baby. Signing a mortgage. Making public announcements. Working with an accountability partner. I get the same ski lift feeling anytime I do something to up-level my life. My consciousness shifts and expands in the face of something I can’t easily undo or let myself off the hook from.
I made it down the mountain that day. It wasn’t pretty but I made it! We don’t have to be pretty or perfect going up and down our mountains. We just have to be determined. And really, when you get down to it, is there anything more beautiful than that?
Till next time, friends.