And now we break for a short public service message. In the same way that I can’t help from listening to John Tesh when it pops up on my car radio, I can’t get one particular song out of my head in the darkest days of January. It runs in the background when the wind howls and the stairs are slippery and the woodstove won’t light and the windshield is caked in ice—from the inside. Sometimes the song leaves for a few hours, but then it’s back like a bad case of the hiccups. It’s Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On.” Yeah, you’re welcome. Now you too can hum this all day long:
Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can you hold on for one more day
Cheesy? Oh yes. Appropriate? Never moreso than right now. Even in the east, where winter was so slow to come that every flake of snow now truly seems like the miracle that it is, January tests the spirit.
Rationally, it all makes sense. We’re faced with short days, cold temps, post holiday blues, doomed resolutions and Christmas credit card bills. On top of that ski racers have to manage the expectations that go along with this being, suddenly, the heart of the season. In December the season lays out in an endless expanse. In January it feels like you’ve hit a cold brick wall. Progress, if it feels forward at all, feels slow and stingy. This is nose-to-the-grindstone month.
If everything isn’t coming together right away—you have a few bad days of training, a couple of bad races, successive DNF’s, a bad cold, a case of flu—things can start to feel really desperate really quickly. That’s when rationality goes out the door, and successive challenges start to feel like a terminal condition of loserdom. You can think yourself right into a tailspin. Recently a fellow ski racer mom recounted how her son spent the second half of last season digging out from the depression he’d dug for himself in the first half.
What can you do? Cue the Wilson Phillips, and stop digging!
It’s tempting to lose faith right about now, but so important not to. Very soon it will be February, all about love and chocolate and ever so slightly longer days. Loose ends—if you’ve been patient, stayed positive and kept working—start coming together. Then one day you wake up, the birds are singing and everything miraculously starts to loosen up.
Until then, chill out (as if we have a choice). Go easy on yourself, know that you are not alone, and that it’s enough to just keep on swimming, or at least treading water.
To make up for the Wilson Phillips thing, I’m going to leave you with the timeless wisdom of Monty Python:
Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best…
(language alert for little ones at 1:42)
Oh, and no John Tesh but here’s your dose of Wilson Phillips—seagulls squawking and the whole nine. Yours, in rainbows, unicorns and namaste