Things Requiring Fearlessness (Sydney Salter)

Learning to ski. Compared to most of my Reno, NV peers, I started late: 7th grade. So I simply pointed my skis downhill, shooting straight to the bottom, crashing, until I eventually learned how to stop. Now I'm trying to teach my teenager to ski. But she's had two spine surgeries. For three years, doctors told her, DO NOT FALL DOWN. Now, she's strong, but she's still afraid to fall, so she won't allow herself that fearless fastness necessary for skiing.

Dream Vacations. Plan and prepare all you want. But other things will happen. You'll get lost. Your newly acquired language skills will fail you. Museum workers will go on strike. Or maybe you'll fall out of a raft, break your shoulder, not realize it, and go zip-lining the next day... But all of that stuff creates the great stories that you repeat over and over again once you get home.

Love/Marriage. As teens, my friends and I talked long into the night, listing all the qualities our ideal mates would possess, as if relationships had right answers like biology exams, as if we could control outcomes if we controlled all the variables. But life is messy, partners grow, families change, and long marriages require a sort of fearlessness moving forward.

Parenting in the Teen Genre. Parenting is always a process of letting go, but more so in the teenage years. I have to trust that I've done my job well enough. Now it's my daughter's turn to make good decisions for herself--for her brain, body, and spirit. And my turn to let her learn from her mistakes.

Writing (Saw that coming, didn't you?). This year I'm working as an Author-In-Residence at a local charter school, mentoring 6th and 7th graders. It's kind of like teaching my post-surgery daughter to ski. "Just write whatever comes into your mind for ten minutes," I'll say after giving the students a juicy story prompt. "Don't worry about spelling, don't worry about writing something good, just write." The fearless ones fill pages and pages, creating some good stuff in the mix. Others crawl along, one word at a time, with little to offer during sharing time. Trying to achieve that sort of sentence-by-sentence perfection stunted my writing throughout college. It wasn't until I started to write as if I were skiing--fast and fearless--that I created my best work.

Be fearless!


  1. I really like your list, especially the part about writing. I think the ones who don't have much to share yet probably have a lot they want to write, but they're afraid of what other people might think. I remember being like that when I was younger.

  2. I still struggle with that "fast and fearless" writing. It could be from all the years I taught English, but it's probably more nature than nurture. My writing style may take longer, but I get there eventually.

  3. I'm also afraid of the fast and furious of course I signed up for NaNo for the first time LOL!

  4. Great list! It will be interesting to see if you careful ones can let go over time.


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