One fateful day in the ides of May, 2001, my family left me to drive to Salt Lake City. I traveled around, went to college, got a job, and at several points visited the Great Salt Lake. However, visiting home isn’t the same as living at home, the difference in time spent causes the experiences to be incredibly different. Though you might recognize the house, you’ll never grow to know the hills like a resident.
This is why I claim the bottom spot of my families skiing ability (the ranking includes only active skiers, sorry Mom). My dad has been skiing since high school, and although my two younger brothers gave up skiing and picked up snowboarding somewhere along the line, they are both much better than me. Add in the fact that although I claim to play soccer once a week, it’s really not enough to put me into a physically optimal condition (cough).
So I ski. And I’m humbled. And it’s good.
There are a lot of situations where I have had the opportunity to humble someone else. Their reactions all very, ranging from anger (“I hate this game, I’m never playing again.”) to curiosity (“Why did you know to make that move?”). It’s easy to be the humbler. You walk taller than anyone in sight and people ask your opinion on how they could become more like you. You sit on a golden throne and eunuchs spread flowers before you as you walk. Your bed is always filled with buxom maidens, and your stomach is always full of the finest cut of meat. But I digress.
It’s a lot harder to be humbled. You’re the one who always wants to stop and take a break. You’re the one who isn’t up for another run or another game. You’re the one people explain the rules or technique to, even though you know them. It sucks, but it’s good. Its one thing to be the loser when the winner is gracious and helpful, but it’s entirely different when the winner is haughty and full of his or her own ability. That’s when you get angry and stop trying. When you like playing games, it’s a skill in itself to both win and keep your opponant willing to play again. You’ll never know how until you lose.
Stand on both sides of the fence. Neither is healthy as a home.
However, the greatest humbler of all has never been humbled by me. She continues to shock and awe as I run around like an ant. I stood on the crest of a 12,000 foot mountain and felt the force of a god scream in the wind and whip snow across my face until it burned with pain. She made my hands so cold they went white, and I had to hide in a shack with a hand dryer for ten minutes before I was able to unzip my fly. You can feel mighty tall riding in your car in the valley, but I’ve never felt shorter than when I’m standing in the clouds.
Mother Nature, the great humbler. For the record, I’m taking notes.