Friday, September 7, 2012

Genesis of Fear: Going Downhill

I'm back to prompts. I love their prompts. Here's a response to one that I loved:

My mother loves the phrase "hindsight is 20-20."

My family has ATVs that we keep at our cabin and ride around the mountains. I've crashed those ATVs a number of times, and the majority of them have been when I was riding downhill. Going down a hill on an ATV always makes me nervous. It takes some kind of backwards faith to put on the gas and know that I'll have more control going faster with the accelerator than slower with the break. When my every instinct is to do the opposite, I hit the gas.

I once stayed up until 2 AM discussing the question: if you could make perfect decisions all the time, and have perfect judgement, would you? I'm still not sure what my answer to that is. Maybe it's because I just can't even comprehend even a little bit what a life like that would look like, but I can't help thinking about some of the dumber things I've done and knowing that given the chance, I'd do it again.

In the winter, the large hill we live on turns to a large luge run for SUVs. Utah's snowy winter packs a punch; the skid marks along the side of our road are a testimonial. By anyone's judgement, I'm not an especially talented driver. I've totalled one car and beat up another so seriously that front and back fenders needed replacement. So driving down the slippery slope was nothing less than terrifying.
On days that it snowed, I left 10 minutes earlier for school. I'd turn the music off (better focus), put my car in the lowest gear, and ever so slowly inch down the hill. Most of the time I'd make it smoothly enough, but the stop sign at the end was always a battle. More often than not I'd find myself sliding into the main road, wishing quicklyasIcould that no other cars would be passing for me to run into.
And somehow there never were.

I'm learning when to trust my head and when to trust my heart. My head leads me toward danger and growth, towards fear and courage, towards a purer self and higher thought. My heart leads me towards sensitivity and tenderness, towards sincerity and generosity, towards personal truth and fulfilling relationships. But their are also pitfalls to both. I'm learning how to differentiate the times to listen to my head and the times to listen to my heart.

My worst experience with the snow was - go figure - when I was going uphill. It was a snowy night during what had been a dry winter. I started up the hill doing fine, but then at the steepest part found myself stuck behind a Honda Civic from the 90s who simply would not be making it up the hill. And I was stuck. I slid my way backwards to the side. Stuck and scared. Called my house. No answer. Called my mom. At her art class 45 minutes away. Called my dad. "I'm in a meeting but I'll leave. Be there in 10 minutes."
I sat in my car listening to Mumford and Sons while I saw my dad drive past - unfettered by the Civic he made it fine. A few minutes later he came back. Wearing his snow boots and parka, carrying mine. I climbed into the passenger seat and felt safe.

I don't really know if there's a way to avoid going downhill. I think that sometimes decisions can't be unmade and sometimes life just goes downhill and sometimes there just isn't any control in anything. Maybe when I'm old I'll know how to never ever go downhill again. But for now, I hold this close: many of the things I hold dearest have come during the ugliest times of my life and from the hardest things I've had to do.

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