Skating Lesson Number 1

Earlier this week, I tried something that I’ve always wanted to do: ice skating.

While in temperate countries skating is a sport that is easily available to many, it is not a common activity in tropical countries like mine. For most of my life, only two skating rinks existed in our land and both of which were located in places far away from my home.

It was only recently that a skating rink was set up in a mall near my house. Finally!

This new rink was small compared to the ones I see in Youtube skating videos or in movies. But, oh my, it took me quite some time to even skate the whole of it. In the beginning, my attempts at walking like a penguin on ice couldn’t even get me anywhere. I was “walking”, yes, but I wasn’t going any distance. That would have been so funny to look at!

But with the guidance and tips of the guys manning the rink, I eventually made progress. With small, penguin-like steps, in combination with a penguin-like position of the arms (for some reason, the arms helped), I was able to reach the other side of the rink.

Getting braver and more confident every minute, the small steps grew wider until they became short gliding movements on the ice.

But just when I was starting to believe that I could skate, I fell on my behind. Ouch!

Still, falling was not as bad as I thought it would be. After a few minutes, the pain subsided and I was gliding again.

After a while, I tried doing wider strides. I thought, having fallen already, what else could go wrong?

But one of my strides got wider than intended. My left foot reached a more watery part of the ice, which was really quite slippery, and I wasn’t able to control my foot’s movement.

I panicked.

Wanting to get my knees back together and return to standing on slightly bended knees, I tried moving my right foot. Perhaps improperly, for the next moment, my left knee hit the ice. Once more, I fell.

Now this one hurt more than the first. Knees, after all, are not that cushioned with fat and muscle.

While my first fall taught me not be afraid of making mistakes, my second fall made me realize that one also need not be too relaxed on the ice. To believe that ridding oneself of fear is the key to getting better is quite simplistic and misleading. Learning how to skate requires daring, but the kind of daring that is responsible and reasonable. Daring that is accompanied by constant focus, mindfulness of one’s surroundings, and wisdom to know when to stop, or at least slow down.

I got back on my feet, found my balance, and skated again until the end of my one-hour session. This time my goal was not a wider stride, but to cover the sides and the center of the rink with small gliding movements. If I want to skate better, my foundations need to be more consistent, more solid than the ice I am treading on.

After the hour was over, I was just happy to have finally tried skating, to have progressed, within an hour’s time, from penguin steps to small gliding movements.

About my knee… thankfully, it didn’t get injured. It hurts no more. But its faint shade of green and tiny dots of purple means that it still hasn’t fully gotten over the fact that it carried the weight of my fall.

But everyday I say it will get better. My knee. My skating.

Next time, I will be more careful yet less afraid.

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