A Cross-Country Chicken

This afternoon I literally stumbled on to something, one of those flashes of truth that are instructive in the in-the-moment micro world and point to a larger truth, question, or at least a lesson.

cross-country-chickenWe were on our second day of X-country skiing in the mountains outside Glacier National Park. We ski a couple hours a day for a week once a year. It’s enough to enjoy it, but not enough to get much better at the sport. I was facing my first big downhill this season on a groomed trail and I knew somewhere I would fall. You see, I never learned to stop. Without that trick up your sleeve, any steep downhill brings out a sweat like no uphill climb ever can.

I couldn’t see very far ahead because of the curves in the trail. Dragging your poles is not only ineffective, it’s cowardly. After about the first 20 yards, I was dragging my poles for all I was worth and still gaining speed. I made it through the first three curves just fine. The trail got a bit steeper and a thought came charging into my mind. “Bail out now before it gets worse!” “Hummm,” I answered. Even though I was still on my skis and not that close to the edge of losing control, bailing out sounded better and better by the nanosecond.

“Yep, you are right!” and down I went, only 30 feet from where the trail leveled off. I gave up. I gave up to avoid an imaginary danger. I took the road of the peaceful chicken instead of the peaceful warrior.

I can’t help but wonder, where else in life do I act like a chicken?


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Having journeyed to the Far East and Asia over 20 times in the past 20 years, I’ve been intrigued and inspired by the ingenuity, craftsmanship, balance and human spirit that have gone into the making of those works I have seen and collected.

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