New Year’s 2013 in New York City…I finally went ice skating to fulfill that clichéd movie-like experience that I always wanted in this beautiful city. As I slipped, tripped, and tumbled over people on the ice, I realized in my observations that skating is a strong metaphor of life. Here is my top 10 list of observations/lessons that demonstrate their similarities:
10. the most fragile spot of the ice rink is the point of entrance: as beginners first place their sharp blades on the slippery ice, it can be a terrifying experience, but luckily, assistants stand by to lend a hand and ensure everyone’s safety on the ice. In life, infants and children are considered the most vulnerable beings like beginners on the ice, and they should be handled with tenderness and care. They require plenty of love, support, and guidance in their early years in order to attain balance and stability in life.
9. Stop clutching onto the railing: As soon as I entered the rink, I grabbed the railing and held on for dear life. My skating partner pried my hands off the railing and pushed me into the crowd, and while this was repeated a couple of times, I finally let go of my fears and plunged right in wholeheartedly to fully experience skating. The same rule applies in life; those who play it safe to protect themselves from pain, humiliation, and vulnerability will remain in a state of mediocrity. Those who embrace life fully and take bold chances will make their journey immensely exhilarating and worthwhile.
8. The need for space: For our own safety and for those around us, we instinctively create space to avoid accidents and injuries from occurring on the ice. This also means that in life we each need personal space to explore who we are, what our purpose is, and allow ourselves room to make slip-ups and explore our limitations. Space provides a safety zone that is needed for self-development and growth, but a violation of personal space can lead to toxic relationships, conflicts, and inner turmoil.
7. Observe the expert skaters; you may learn something valuable: In skating, the figure skaters and speed skaters usually steal the show with their skills and graceful moves. In my perspective, they represent elders in our communities, those who have had more exposure to life, harder falls, victories, and turned out stronger and wiser as a result. Perhaps, collectively, we’re all facing precarious times in all spheres of society today because our connection to the teachings of elders has been disrupted. It may be time to reconnect ourselves with their wisdom and learn from their values, courage and resilience if we wish to restore the health of the environment, our communities, and ourselves.
6. When you fall, get back up: Expect to fall on the ice when you give yourself a chance to learn new moves, but remaining on the ground is not an option- you freeze your butt off, it’s very cold, damp, and lonely down there, and you pose a danger to those coming towards you; nothing positive comes out of this. The other option is to ask for a hand if you need the support, get back up, and carry on with your journey. Some of life’s greatest lessons come with a hard fall, but don’t let them grind you down because they’re only meant to teach you something about life, not define your worth. Those falls are just as important to your growth as your triumphs are.
5. Embrace your natural cushions: This one goes out to the girls and women who measure their self-worth by images in the media. On the ice, you’re better off when you have more than less in certain areas; a skinny ass can’t save you like a cushioned one can when that hard ice breaks your fall. Embrace yourself for all that you are and all that you have. Resenting yourself because you don’t fit society’s twisted and unattainable definition of beauty is true beauty well wasted.
4. The skating rink is a community; you have a role to play: Every person in the skating arena is sending into the environment a type of energy and has the power to change the course of that environment. Among the types of skaters, you’ll find the artists who add beauty to the setting with their skills, the mentors who train those less skilled, the helpers who lend a hand to vulnerable ones, and of course those who have no regard for the safety of others. Life works the same way and it’s up to us to decide, as change agents, how we’d like to use our various skills and qualities to contribute to our environment.
3. Time for a break when you’ve gone numb: If you skate long enough or if you’re not properly equipped, you’ll eventually go numb by the cold weather, which means you need a break to warm up. Life too can lead to numbness, burn out, and apathy as a result of everyday stressors or loss of direction; we all experience this at some points in life. Taking time out to practice self-care is important for your spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional health. This practice enables you to step out of your current circumstances temporarily, reassess your direction and objectives, and reignite that fire within.
2. Learn to laugh at yourself: Either on the ice or in life, when you fall, it’s not the end of the world. When you cry, your situation may seem disastrous, but when you’re able to laugh at yourself, your perception shifts significantly because you’re able to see that you’re not going to break. You begin to see your choices, actions, and circumstances not as mistakes, but merely as lessons to learn from. Laughter welcomes amusement in life, even in some of the most painful situations, and makes you realize how humorous life can be and how silly we can be as human beings.
1. Skating is more fun in pairs and groups: Despite my lack of coordination that constantly led to tripping and crashing into walls, this skating activity was incredibly enjoyable because I had someone to experience it with, someone who stood by me throughout all my blunders. Life works the same way- unconditional love and support from loved ones makes life so gratifying. Like skating, life is cold and lonely when you have no one to create moments with, but when you share your life with others and allow them to share theirs with you, the blessings that come with that kind of partnership are golden.
This is my humble gift to you. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New year to you and yours!!!
By Farial Ali