After high school I traveled from the cornfields of Indiana to the mountains of the West to attend college. One day four of us, all freshmen, drove up to a nearby resort to spend the day skiing.
We got on the ski lift and enjoyed the exhilaration of flying high above the slopes. As we got close to the top, it occurred to me that the lift was not stopping to let people get off their seats. No, people just pushed up and off the moving chair, and then they skied down the ramp from the lift. I asked the guy next to me and yelled to the pair behind me to discover if anybody knew how to get off the lift. Nope, none of us did, but it was too late to do anything about it by then.
When we got to the top, we all skied a few feet, tried to make the descending turn and ended up in a pile of four guys at the bottom of the ramp. Humiliating.
I had watched skiers in the Olympics lift up their skis and schuss dramatically down the slope with great speed, so I figured that I would just mimic what I’d seen on television. I pointed my skis downhill and in seconds found myself moving at what I was certain was a hundred miles an hour. I tried to move the skis to the side, but nay, there was no steering wheel. I tried slowing down. No brakes. Terrified, I concluded that there was only one way to slow down, so I leaned over and hit the ground with my body. Snow exploded high into the air as I created what looked like a bomb crater. Apparently this is not considered a sophisticated form of skiing.
Groggy from the trauma, I repeated the experience—over and over, all the way down the mountain. Not only did I have no skiing skills, but I had no clue about appropriate skiing apparel, so I just wore an old wool sweater. Snow sticks to wool much like Velcro, so at the bottom I was covered with a thick layer of snow and closely resembled Frosty the Snowman. I was certain that every skier was laughing his or her head off.
Undeterred, I took the ski lift back up and repeated the experience almost exactly, hoping—I suppose—that somehow the mountain would finally conform to my style of skiing.
Looking back, my behavior was absurd, but without instruction I could see little choice but to repeat my foolishness—over and over. Most of us live in a way similar to how I attempted to ski. We make choices that result in misery—or at the very least far from genuine happiness. We somehow know that much more is possible, so we try again, but without knowing how to improve our choices, we are condemned to repeat our mistakes—over and over again.
We CAN learn different choices. We need to find teachers who are happier and wiser than we are, and then they can take us by the hand, guiding us on paths that otherwise we would not have seen. Love is the path. Love is the way of light and power. Love illuminates choices that will bring us greater happiness than we can presently imagine. This love surrounds us. We don’t need to create it. We need only to find it, trust it, remember it, and share it with others. And thus we will create a world of joy for ourselves and those around us.
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