Self-Denial, Risk and Parenting: 
February 12, 2016

“I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion.”

Kurt Hahn

When you shouldn’t do something is it sensible self-denial?  All I know is not doing something I love is hard. Three months ago I broke my leg skiing. I love skiing. When my cup feels empty, it fills me up. The sensations I gain from sliding downhill not only provide a perception of freedom, they also bring understanding to lots of other areas of my life. Let’s call them life lessons. To not ski is to not only be robbed of my fun, it is also a removal from my essence. Dramatic, huh?

So it has been 3 months since I skied and I have committed (sensible self-denial) to not alpine / telemark / downhill skiing this season. Unless of course, things are healed remarkably well. However, Hahn in the same sentence talks about enterprising curiosity, tenacity in pursuit, and undefeatable spirit so I hope you feel compassion towards my dilemma, if not my condition. On Monday I could hold it in no longer and put skis on top of the car, grabbed the dog and went out in search of adventure and the kind of healing that only nature provides. In all fairness they were cross country skis but I knew I needed a view. I needed to feel the wind on my face. I needed to smell the heavy scent of pine give way to the moist fresh of the alpine. I needed to see the joy of our dog in the wild. I needed to feel stretched. And perhaps, I needed to feel a little scared.

Squaw mountain is the site of an old fire lookout and has the advantage of a maintained forest service road to its summit. For the most part the road had kept snow despite the winds it attracts and so slowly but surely I felt the fish scales bite and the skis taking me to the top. It was everything I wanted it to be. I relished it. And then it was time for the descent. This is where things became a little strange. I had not anticipated the head game that was going to accompany my sliding downhill. I felt out of control. I felt vulnerable. Time for equanimity to come into play. I have been to this place of “leaving my comfort zone” before (lots of times). I have placed myself there purposefully. What else are adventures? When my mind starts imagining worse case scenarios, then it is time to stop, breathe, see the situation for what it is and find a solution. With a mixture of walking and skiing I returned to the car.

Later, there was a realization. This is similar to what is happening in my work life at the moment? Yet again, it is time to transfer the learning from outdoors into other areas of my life.

Isn’t this what our kids truly need to learn? Does denying them the opportunity to have adventurous experiences help them or does it in fact hurt them?

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