I peer down the impressive, snow-covered slope. I glance at the brown dining hall tray in my hands. I am skeptical.
"Guys, are you sure this is safe? What if I die?"
My friends laugh and reassure me. The countless tracks that pepper the terrain should reassure me too, but I can't seem to push the joke of a seasoned sledder out of my mind:
Either the tray breaks, or you break.
I look to the scenic mountain range in the distance for comfort, but only find the inky darkness of the night. I inhale deeply, hoping the crisp winter air will cleanse me of my fears.
I begin to reason with myself: Well, it is a campus tradition, and your friends have emerged alive and unharmed...
Exhaling, I speak before I can back out. "All right guys, show me how to do this."
After a mini-tutorial on the art of sledding with a dining hall tray, I attempt to emulate the proper form: butt balanced, knees up, feet hovering outside the tray, hands gripping the sides.
A warbled sound resembling a deep wail escapes my throat before I even begin to move. With an awkward self-start, I'm off.
I keep wailing as I whizz down the hill, snow spraying my face. I attempt to steer around bumps, but some of them are unavoidable. I bounce, fly, bounce, fly. It is oddly satisfying, invigorating, exhilirating.
I slow to a stop, dazed and dizzy but delighted. I am happy--because I've tackled the intimidating and allowed myself to let go.
* * *
A few weeks later, the carefree moments of the beginning of the semester already feel so distant. Deadlines loom threateningly, stress leads to nights of tossing and turning. It's back to the usual grind.
Like sledding, I may not have control over everything along the way, but I know everything will be okay.