As a lifelong skier, I resonate deeply with Steph Jagger's first book, Unbound. Now, I've never tackled a year-long global ski record, but her journey and the lessons learned along the way spoke to me in ways that words often don't.
And while being a skier myself played a part in my emotional connection to her story, I truly believe that even those who have never skied before can easily find themselves immersed into this endlessly-snowy epic and reach the end of the book as a wiser, more compassionate person. Take the excerpt below, for example; it doesn't take any skiing-specific knowledge to understand that the ability to let go of "things" - both metaphorically and literally - is essential to survival, happiness, self-growth, and success.
Excerpted from Unbound by Steph Jagger. Copyright 2017. Reprinted by permission of Harper Wave, and imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
I’ve never been in an avalanche, but I have taken multiple courses about how to survive them. A fair bit of your ability to make it out alive has to do with the gear you have with you and your knowledge of how to use it. You need shovels and probes and avalanche beacons. Helmets help, as do snow saws, slope meters, and crystal cards. “But get rid of the rest,” I recall one instructor saying. “That GoPro strapped to your chest, that’ll strangle you. Those pole straps you’ve got your hands through? When the poles go flying, they’ll take your arms with ’em, or they’ll impale you. Not a great way to go. And,” he went on, “you won’t hear shit coming if you keep those headphones in. Get rid of all that,” he warned. “Bring what you need and dump the rest, ’cause you won’t make it out alive with all that shit.”
As it turns out, life is the same. It’s really fucking tough to make it to the top if you’re carrying too much, and sister, you’re gonna go down hard if you try to ski with a pack that weighs more than you do. You can’t keep all that shit. Those beliefs you created, the ones you tied around your neck in an effort to keep you safe, to help you sleep at night—watch out, because one day, they just might choke you out. Let them go, say good-bye, march on.
And for me, it wasn’t without worry. It wasn’t without wondering how on earth I’d live without these things. “But how will I know I’m good enough,” I asked, “or if I’m deserving of love? How will I know any of this if I throw my measuring sticks away? And how will I motivate myself?” I demanded. “Where will inspiration come from if I cast my fear of failure, and my perfectionism, and dear God, all of my rules, into the wind?” And then finally I wailed one last question, “How will I know who I am without all of those things?”
Oh my darling, a voice replied, that’s the point. How will you know who you are if you don’t let everything go?
The voice was back, unwavering. She took the fears right out of my hands, and threw them one by one into the snow. I liked this woman a lot.