Commentary: Resolving to live life with gusto

As I woke to the first rays of the morning sun glistening off the gently falling snow, I thought how incredible it was to be in the midst of all this. Flying into Park City, Utah, the day before, and awakening to this spectacular light show, was simply breathtaking, as if angels descended from heaven just for my sake to say good morning.

Little did I know that today God would be answering my endless barrage of questions to my New Year's resolutions.

How can I be a better me this year?

What do I want to add to my life that I didn't have the year before?

What do I need to change this year to experience an incredible life?

I didn't have all my answers, but I definitely had the answer to one.

I needed a large coffee, extra shot of espresso, topped off with cream — breakfast of champions.

Just the thought of it made me jump out of bed and layer up with boots, scarves, hats and gloves as if I were a pioneer forging through the elements in a quest for gold — in my case just the closest coffee shop.

Just opening the door and smelling the freshly brewed coffee made my day right. Whatever happened past this glorious beginning of the new day was irrelevant. While placing my order I spotted a cozy table by the fireplace, and because I was the only one there at first dawn, like a badge of honor I walked over and claimed it.

Perfect. Strong coffee, fireplace, snow, and pen and paper to design my new life.

I was in my own little world, as if God and I were sitting down for a chat anticipating revelations for the new year.

Suddenly a blast of cold air hit me as I looked up to find what I deemed my intruder, fracturing my private world only to yield to the bare reality that this was a public place and I had to share it. Oooh, that was an epiphany — let's put selfish on my list as something I need to change.

"Good morning!" he called, way too cheery for this early hour.

Apparently he was in his own little world as well, and wanted me to share in it.

Reluctantly I responded, "Good morning," devoid of any emotion to block any further conversation. I lowered my head as a "do not disturb" gesture and returned to focus on hearing revelations from God about my New Year's list.

From the corner of my eye, I saw him approaching the fireplace and settling in at the table next to mine.

"Oh c'mon," I thought, agitated. "Is my intruder now going to expect a conversation?"

"It's going to be a great day, isn't it?" he once again spoke in his irritatingly cheery voice.

Good one. He just engaged me in a question that required me to answer. Before hopelessly putting down my pen, I scribbled down "anti-social, unfriendly, too easily irritated" on my list of defects to overcome, and apologized to God that we would just have to try our conversation tomorrow. Then I entered into a tete-to-tete with my new feigned friend.

"Skiing today?" I dejectedly responded.

"Of course! Just warming up before the kids show up."

Feeling like a complete dimwit, I noticed for the first time his bright orange jacket with the Park City logo and ski teacher badge bearing his name. Wow, I reflected, let's just go ahead and write down completely self-centered. Am I this unaware of others?

My New Year's list of things to change was becoming increasingly apparent.

"I suppose you must love your job," I responded, surprised by my increasing interest.

"Love it. The kids come to me so fearful their first day, seeing the mountain as a huge barrier," he said. "To teach someone to ski is the easy part. Overcoming their panic is the real challenge. I must handle one trepidation at a time before I can ever take them to the top of the mountain."

All of a sudden, I found myself completely engrossed, listening on a much deeper level.

"I am very patient, allowing every hidden worry and anxiety to be exposed. Yet, I am persistent, relentless, knowing that once they trust me to take them to the top, they will experience something they never had in their entire life.

"Yes, I love my job. There is nothing like seeing their fear at the bottom of the mountain and witnessing the transformation at the top ... ultimate freedom."

I can't put it into words. This man, now morphed into my mentor, answered questions I had about my own life, as if he were an angel sent from heaven to talk straight to me.

He stood up to leave — now that I wanted him to stay — walked out the door and waved goodbye.

How serendipitous: My New Year's list was complete.

Yes, there were character flaws that I wish were gone, but those weren't the things that kept me from my incredible new life. It was the fear of going to the top of my mountain, fear of relationships, fear of change, fear of the unknown.

Above all, fear of not trusting God to teach me to live in total freedom.

I took my last sip of coffee and wrote in big capital letters my New Year's resolution: fearless living.

Getting up to get my last refill of liquid courage, I saw the highest peak standing magnificently before me in full view, and I knew exactly where I was going to be skiing today.

LISA HAMILTON is a Laguna Beach resident.

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