Snowboarding, emotions, habits
Greetings from San Francisco!
There are just times when I really really don’t want to write. The thought of having almost 50 people read these words just fills me with NO NO NO NO. Today is one of those days. All I want to do is curl up, eat pizza, play video games, and spend time with friends. I don’t want to face the world. I want to just stew.
That’s just a part of life. I’ve set the goal to publish every Sunday and the small ups and downs of life aren’t going to stop me from doing that. In fact, publishing this newsletter today, especially when it’s difficult for me, will make every future newsletter much easier.
Focus music, on. Time, blocked. I ain’t stopping till this is done. I can do it. And who knows? I just might feel better afterwards.
Oh yeah - that’s one of my goals for this year. Publishing a long form newsletter once a week. Still experimenting with the format, but you can hold me to it!
I spent last week in Vancouver our an-all company gathering. Some of us topped the week off with a day of snowboarding at Whistler, an absolute unit of a ski resort a few hours north of the city.
Just look at this map. Look at how big the mountains are and how long the runs are. Top to bottom is anywhere between 20-30 minutes of pure snowboarding. Brutal on the legs (I’m glad I trained up for it!) but insanely exhilarating.
The weather was hilariously bad. Lower on the mountain was straight up rain, but higher on the mountain it was snowing. So we got soaked on the way down, and refrozen on the way back up. Really fun. But it had been so long since I’d gone snowboarding that it didn’t bother me much. I was just so happy to be on the board, on the slopes.
There’s this moment of pure exhilaration as I crest the peak of a run and begin catapulting downwards. Hitting turns off moguls, winding my way through narrow passages, and doing perfect carves on the toe-side of my board. I fall all the time, at least once a run. A little “Shit!” and skip of the heartbeat when my board catches an edge I wasn’t expecting. But every time I fell, I just kept getting back up, hooting and hollering all the way down.
All of my coworkers were at different skill levels. Some were taking jumps, and others were winding their way down slowly and surely. I started the day with a group of coworkers sticking to greens and blues, then finished off the day with the faster group going down more technical blue runs. In this group I was definitely the slowest, but they pushed me. I started taking slopes more quickly and doing runs faster than I was comfortable with. I grew more and more confident and was eventually traveling down at a speed I didn’t know I was capable of. We finished off that last run with a group picture at the bottom. Beautiful memories.
Describing vs Feeling Emotions
Last week, I wrote about how I sometimes analyze my emotions to avoid doing anything about them, and how my most effective personal route for change is to pick a high value direction and move towards it with consistency. This week, we need to talk about the other half, perhaps the first half, of doing something about negative emotions: Actually feeling them.
Our generation has made huge strides in emotional self-awareness as therapy has gone more and more mainstream, which made therapy less stigmatized and available to the masses. On a personal level, my past therapists helped me develop a vocabulary to describe my stories & emotions and communicate them to others. I finally had tools to deal with emotions instead of letting them control me.
But saying “I’m feeling sad” isn’t the same as actually feeling a heart-wrenching void in my stomach. Telling myself “I’m feeling angry” isn’t the same as feeling the visceral, all-too-real impulse to punch a hole in the wall. Observing my own emotions may keep me calm and level headed in the short term, but feeling them in their entirety is what allows them to pass through and out. Otherwise, they become bottled up. And when they are released, it’s out of control, usually when I’m sleep deprived and have the least ability to control them.
Everyone is so different. I don’t proclaim to have an answer any of this because I’m still figuring it out. But I will say that trying to sit down and feel sad, and to be okay with just feeling really fucking sad, and trying to channel that sadness into a piece of writing or music or a workout has started to redefine my relationship to negative experiences.
I know that the part of my brain that seeks to understand and process and find concrete action items for the next time around swill always be there for me when I need it. It’s the ability to just sit, feel like shit, and direct that tension into something meaningful that I will continue exploring for now.