Well, I did not ski strong, elegant, and graceful after all. I did not keep up with several of the guys and the gal in my skiing exam group on 2 February.
The Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) like to say that I “did not attain” the standards. Once, I blogged about calling “rejections” “turn-downs.” This past exam still feels like a “failure” to me.
Like many Academy and Pilot Training graduates, I’m not used to repeated failure. Sure, we may fail on our first attempt, but with training, knowledge, and effort, we expect to prevail. While skiing and writing may offer many attempts for redemption, the military rarely offers more than three attempts at a goal.
I’m also not accustomed to unanswered prayers. My belief is that the purpose of prayer is not to change the world, but to change myself. I prayed to ski my best; I did not. In my life’s previous trials, when my prayers seemed unanswered, it usually turned out that God’s answer was, “Not yet.” By the time His answer was yes, I had gained the wisdom to handle or reject my success. What wisdom is to be gained from failing a ski exam three times? Humility?
When I posed these questions to a ski instructor friend of mine, he quoted The Last Samurai to me. My friend is not an academy grad, but he has a warrior spirit of his own, and he nailed me.
“Anne, you have ‘Too many mind,’” he said, quoting the Shin Koyamada lines to Tom Cruise during a sword training session: Mind the sword. Mind the people watch. Mind the enemy. Too many mind — NO MIND.
So, perhaps this is just another example of God saying, “Not Yet.” The results of the ski exam do not change my job or who I am. Yes, it did give me another lesson in humility. I am still growing.
Of course, as a fan not only of The Last Samurai but also of Bill Murray, I’ll try not to retake the exam next Groundhog Day.