I ski at Winter Park each winter, and each winter I get to see the National Sports Center for the Disabled in action.
The highlight for me came a few years ago.
It was my first run, and as I stood at the top of a groomed black, I wasn’t “feeling it.” I took a moment to look out at the Rockies; if I wasn’t feeling the skiing, I might as well feel the majesty of the mountains, right?
Apparently I wasn’t the only one thinking that.
“Beautiful day, huh,” said someone who had skied up next to me.
Without looking at him, I answered. “Sure is. I just wish I were feeling better about this run.”
“We’ll see. Slow start. Why don’t you go ahead.”
“Thanks. I’m sure you’ll find your flow,” he said.
Then he skied away, and I saw him for the first time.
He had one leg.
I started to laugh. Out loud. At myself, and at the pity party I’d been having a moment ago.
As I stood there, a blind skier came up along the catwalk, with his guide, and passed me as well.
My laughing got so hard, tears came to my eyes.
Have you ever laughed by yourself? It’s not that easy. This laughter came from a deep place and wouldn’t stop. It was overwhelming.
Disabled? We’ve all got something wrong with us. Some of us deal with physical limits. Others with mental or emotional limits. But none of us have to take our limits seriously.
I’ve had some wonderful moments on that mountain. That one ranks at the top. It wasn’t the hardest run I’ve ever done, nor the best skied, nor even the most aesthetically beautiful. It was the one most filled with pure joy.
I’m not even sure joy is the right word. Imagine the mix of emotions you’d feel if the love of your life were to wake from a 6-month coma and immediately tell the funniest joke you’ve ever heard. The relief. The happiness. The love. The pride. The humor. The wakefulness.
That is the feeling that swept over me and had me in stitches.
It’s a privilege to ski every year with the Sports Center and their skiers.
They don’t know me, I don’t know them. But skiing amongst them reminds me that what makes us each perfect is our willingness to ignore our limits.
It was a simple realization, and one that never ceases to bring me joy.