Learning to go Downhill
I’ve never been very good at going downhill.
I was bribed with banana splits to encourage me to learn how to ride a bike. I was ten. I still am not comfortable on a bike; the slightest decline inspires panic and usually results in a dismount and walk. I used to think I could roller blade when I lived in San Antonio. It turns out that San Antonio is flat. Really flat. As soon as I took my “skills” to other less elevation-challenged cities, I realized that I really had no skill at all. But I did have a really sore behind. When I drive my standard-transmission car on the downside of a hill, I inevitably downshift beyond what is necessary. Even while running (look ma, no wheels!), I power up the hills and slow down on the decent.
I’m not sure what it is about hills that causes me pause. I know I get panicky, afraid that the situation will get out of control. It seems like any slight miscalculation is amplified through momentum, the snowball gaining size as it tumbles down the slope. Perhaps I don’t trust progress made that is not under my own power. Maybe I just need to learn to surrender to gravity.
I’ve tried to address this shortcoming at various times with varying degrees of success (okay, really with varying degrees of failure), but I have never fully committed to the cause. My recent work on taming my monkey mind has encourage me to attempt a different approach. Maybe I need to work to calm my mind before the downhill attempt and focus on breathing throughout. This is where I struggle, as the inevitable increase in speed on a decent makes me feel as though my mind and breathe must also increase so as to keep up. My brain doesn’t seem to understand that acceleration due to gravity does not have to apply to breath.
Who knows, maybe one day, I will learn to delight in the respite a downhill can provide. Until then, I think I’ll stick to the bunny slopes and stay low to the ground.