Thursday, March 8, 2018

Surly Skier. And other choices.

Last Saturday morning, while running snow-encrusted trails at Mendon Ponds Park at the TrailsRoc group run, two different cross-country skiers had two different reactions to our presence on the trails. (Some of the trails at Mendon are groomed for xc-skiers, but we were running on the side of the trail so as not to ruin the ski tracks). As we started, one skier coming towards us asked "You're not going to run across the groomed trail are you?" Sheila explained that we were going to be on the side edges of the trail, to which the skier responded "Oh good, thank you!" Most of the other skiers we saw didn't say anything, except for one woman who angrily yelled at us to "Get off the trails!"

I've been thinking about that incident and about the ways in which people have different responses to the same situation. When you encounter a situation that concerns you or that maybe you don't particularly like or just have some words to say about it, how do you respond? Are you Sensitively Assertive Skier? Or Surly Skier?

Despite our best intentions, I think we have all been Surly Skier at times (or Silently Surly Skier, where we say nothing aloud but are secretly resentful or angry. I am so guilty of this. I'm not proud to say I have spent entire relationships wearing Silently Surly Skier boots. It's not a good look. I have attempted to move on to a better look - gold pants and elephant pants - but I'm still a work in progress). We're imperfect, we make mistakes. Life is hard and everyone has struggles. We can't ever fully know what it's like to ski in someone else's boots. Maybe the Surly Skier was having a bad day or had a bad experience with runners in the past or I don't know, was auditioning for one of those You're not you when you're hungry Snickers commercials.

But moments like this remind me that in every situation I have a choice. I get to choose how to respond. I can give people the benefit of the doubt and respond with curiosity and kindness. Or I can be defensive/judgmental/angry. I can choose to add more fuel to the fuming pile of anger. Or I can choose to see other people's defensive/angry behaviors as what they really are: the outward manifestation of their own internal pain and suffering. Then I can choose to not take it personally and to respond with compassion. This is really freaking hard to do. It takes effort and practice and continually filling up your own internal reservoirs with love and happiness. But it's the most worthwhile choice you can make.

Ski on, my friends. May we choose sweetness (and Snickers) over surliness.

Lyric of the moment: "You're around 'til you're not around. And that's all I need to know. Every time you decide to stay. Then the world will make you go. And that's all you need to know. Enjoy your youth. Sounds like a threat. But I will anyway..." ~Regina Spektor "Older and Taller"

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, if there's no reason I wouldn't be allowed on the edges of said groomed trails I would most likely either a)Say nothing or b)reply "No thanks!", smile and wave. (: