Yesterday, I went for an epic rollerblade. Eight miles, bright blue skies, forest all around me. And, ‘they’ (don’t know who they are, just know that I love them) had just come through to clear the path of debris – something they do on a monthly basis. So, I was cruisin’…to the point that I kind of stopped paying attention.
Around mile 4 I glided up a small hill and passed a guy walking – who just so happened to be beautiful – and I was busy being grateful for his smile and friendly ‘good morning’ when suddenly I realized that I had reached the top of the hill…and that it was the hill. The one with a treacherous and steep downhill on the other side.
I know this terrain well. My usual M.O. on this slope is to approach it at a snail’s pace, criss-cross in a horizontal fashion and get to its pine needle and dirt ‘gutter’ as soon as possible, where I then proceed to walk down the hill like the chicken that I am gracefully. But, alas, I wasn’t paying attention and I was going really fast. Really, really fast.
I had two choices:
- Go for it. Engage my core, tuck down, watch the pavement for rocks and sticks…and fly down the hill.
- Throw myself on the ground to immediately stop the madness.
I chose #2. In my defense, I did panic a little first. And then, I basically did my most unglamorous rendition of sliding into second base. I got a nasty raspberry with a side of road rash on my leg and a bruise on my tuchus, I gave myself tennis elbow somehow and this morning I woke up and felt like all of my bones were off-kilter – like someone hung my skeleton the wrong way on the hanger.
Anyway, I peeled myself off the pavement and started back to my car – lest you forget, I still had about 4 miles to go. This, not surprisingly, gave me plenty of time to over-analyze the hell out of my decision.
- Is this how I live my life?
- Am I so cynical that I assumed I was going down no matter what?
- Would I rather cause my own pain than let the world do it to me?
- Do I throw myself under the bus?
- Am I cutting myself off from opportunity?
- Do other people do this too?
And, of course, like the answer to all of my questions, there isn’t one. I’ve charged down ‘the hill’ at top speed more times than I can count – hair flying behind me and screaming, ‘WOOHOO!’ all the way down. But, like we’ve just seen, I’ve also hopped off the trail or taken my own dive, consequently not putting myself at risk – not only of failure, but also of wild success.
Sometimes flying down the hill gleans brilliant results, sometimes huge mistakes. Sometimes I can’t believe I dropped out and missed an opportunity, sometimes I praise my intuition and near escape.
There’s ‘self-preservation’ and there’s ‘self-sabotage’ – and there’s a marked difference and a place and time for each. One of the secrets of life is being able to tell the difference. Can you?
Image credit: The Rocketeer