Just as in downhill skiing, concentrate on where you want to go when life’s trail gets bumpy

When I was a teenager learning how to downhill ski, a friend taught me how to approach moguls. A formidable challenge for someone new to the sport, I had no idea how to navigate the series of hard-packed bumps dotting a steep-feeling slope on a popular trail. What made the challenge even worse, especially for a self-conscious teenager, was that this set of moguls was located just under the ski lift.

All eyes, obviously, were pinned on me in my little 15-year-old center of the universe.

He was relaxed and encouraging. “It’s easy,” he said, “You just have to look where you want to go, and your body will follow. Don’t look at what you want to avoid — you’ll naturally go that way. But —” he demonstrated, skiing down a few moguls and then pausing and looking upward, “If you just kind of look a couple steps ahead and keep loose and sort of hop–hop–hop, you’ll get the hang of it quick.”

I, of course, proceeded downslope and made it two or three turns before crashing spectacularly with imagined hoots and jeers coming from the skiers on the lift. But those two or three turns were more than I’d managed before, and I took his advice to heart.

Look where you want to go.

Last weekend, in the hot, dry quiet of a cedar sauna, I initiated an invented exercise with my husband.

“What are things we like? Go.”

He was game, and we took turns free-associating. Later on I wrote what I could remember down in my journal.

A hot meal after a cold day outside. The smell of buds in April. Fall in Alaska. June in Alaska. Good conversations. Fancy dinners out with the kid. Riding bikes downtown to meet friends for a beer. Accomplishing hard

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