A friend said he was very proud that at my tender age I had just learned to ski moguls He thought it was cool. Of course I am pleased to have accepted this challenge and finally achieved the impossible. And of course another friend said that I was too old to be doing this.

I have been wondering why I was able to do this after so many years? Instead of plodding along at a snail’s pace—a scared snail in fact—who traversed a mogul field by going all the way to one side and then all the way back 100 feet or so to the other side, I was finally able to zip down within a narrower 15 or 30-foot corridor. How did this happen? What was the difference that allowed me to not fall, to speed up, to lean downhill?

Ira on far right at end of last mogul run—3/18/10

Ira on far right at end of last mogul run—3/18/10

I have concluded it was because my son was there as an inspiration. I wanted us to be able to ski together on the same trails at the same time. My being on a blue, while he was on blacks would not have been satisfying. I had to overcome my fears. I had to make it down through the mogul field. I had to go fast enough to not make him impatient or bored. And he was kind enough to put no additional pressure on me.

So I rose to the demands of this occasion. I always had the talent. I was merely able at last to call up my latent skills and deliver the motions. If inspiration can move mountains, it can also let some of us ski on mountains.

I’d like to be able to do this in tennis and squash as well. Maybe in other aspects of my life outside of sports. Too bad my son will be away in school for almost all those contests…

I finished the Andre Agassi auto-bio, Open, on this vacation. A great depiction of what the pro-tennis life can be about. Terrible. What a grind. But more importantly, Andre describes in detail how much of a mind game this sport is. And many others must be as well. In my earlier posts, I have guessed ones mental attitude was critical. Now it is more than confirmed. Momentum. The change in one’s outlook. The killer instinct. The passion to win. These are all very very real. I love the challenge of improving my performance. Now I must go hard after my goals…

At lunch yesterday in Montreal, the waiter told us an astonishing observation: “In the two years I have been working at this restaurant, you are the first English family who tries to speak French.” My son has been studying in school, so he is pretty conversant in French, and I know enough words to ask for tarte du pomme and say merci beau coup.

However to hear that no other people raised speaking English would try a few words at the table is stupefying to me. It tells me how afraid people must be to fail. Or too lazy to try to learn. How can they realize any dreams (assuming they have them) if they don’t take chances and risk losing or making mistakes? Especially a mistake as minor as using the wrong foreign word. Like I once asked in Italy for fish (pesce) ice cream instead of peach (pesca) ice cream…it’s a family joke still. I also told a Spanish grave digger I was visiting my cousin’s (primo) cemetery instead of my first (primero) cemetery. That’s another family laugh at me. And the poor gravedigger kept trying to help me find my dead cousin…

Are you one of those people afraid to make any mistakes? Maybe a slight change in behavior will lead to bigger, more meaningful changes in the future…