「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Learning to fall

By Samantha Loong


I tried snowboarding for the first time earlier this year. I’d heard that it was much more difficult to pick up than skiing, so I was a little nervous, especially as I’m not exactly a good skier either.

I don’t know what made me decide to try snowboarding. I’m not particularly fond of snow, or wearing lots of layers of clothing. So when I found myself strapped into a board, staring down an intimidatingly steep mountain, all I could say to my friends was: “There’s no other way back to the car, is there?”

In life, we learn to work upwards; to climb mountains and to reach peaks. Learning to snowboard is probably one of the few times where you’re working on achieving the opposite ― where you want to go down. And thanks to my amazing friends, I learned how to achieve some moments of stability as I slid, rolled and crashed my way down the mountain.

Oh how I tumbled. There is no graceful way to fall, and it goes against human nature to enjoy falling. It’s not surprising that we fear it. The word “fall” sounds and looks like “fail.” But with snowboarding, I learned that it was actually possible to fall and fail in a successful and even enjoyable way. I was told to fling my arms backwith wild abandon to avoid falling on my elbows, which could lead to injury. It took a little getting used to, but after the first few falls, I began to hit the snow with as much drama as possible, landing into the soft powder like a well-insulated starfish.

Fail, bail and wipe out. Screw up, mess up and flub. We spend most of our lives trying to avoid doing any of these things. But after my snowboarding trip, I think that everyone needs to experience one time where they need to get good at failing. I’d encourage anyone learning a language or trying a new sport to do it in an environment where you feel safe to experiment, to mess up and to have a laugh while you’re doing it.

Maybe life’s not about conquering mountains. Instead, maybe it’s about finding the best way to fall safely if you do lose your footing, slip or just get exhausted. In my case, I was lucky to find some friends who didn’t just teach me how to embrace landing on my arse, but also got me up and down that mountain with patience, encouragement and laughter. I’m still not particularly fond of snow or wearing lots of layers of clothing, but the next time I stare at that slope, I know I’ll be able to work my way back down.



The Japan Times ST: February 27, 2015

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2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版