I still remember the intent look in his eyes. This was serious.
We paused at the crest of a hill, looking down the embankment and up the other side across a small ravine.
He stepped off his snowmobile, which was something that no one ever did. With as much snow as had fallen, trying to walk through the fresh powder was near impossible, and there was really no way to tell just how deep the snow really was. One wrong step and you’re neck-deep in a snow bank.
He approached my machine and took off his helmet. He signaled for me to lift my visor and kill the engine.
I obliged, and then I could feel the intensity in the expansive outdoors turn all the way up to eleven.
He looked me dead in the eye and said “I need you to gun it.”
I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant, but I could tell it was important.
“We’re going down into this ravine and the only way you’re getting this sled up the other side is if you really punch it. You can’t let off the throttle, no matter what.”
As a 14 year old I felt like I was being handed nuclear launch codes. On one quiet January morning at Strawberry reservoir the fate of the planet rested in my hands.
I nodded a reassuring nod, but it must not have been that reassuring.
He started again…
“I want you to tell me you’re gonna gun it. I can’t have you give up on me here.”
“OK Uncle, I’ll gun it. I promise I’ll gun it.”
Now the reality is that there wasn’t a nuclear winter at stake. The truth is my Uncle Dick didn’t wanna spend his only Saturday away from the dealership — the best day to move merchandise in Utah — digging out a snowmobile because his idiot nephew buried it in the bottom of a ravine.
I think back to that moment often. Especially on the days when I’m really struggling to hold it together.
Sometimes the only way through the most treacherous life terrain is to “gun it”. When we slow down or waver we lose the momentum we need to carry us to the top of the next peak.
As much as we feel the need to back away from the trials that come our way, facing them head on is really the only way through. It’s the only way we survive.
And I’ll tell you what — I’ll never forget the view as we looked out at the horizon from the top of that next ridge line.