#40 I crashed into a tree

Y and I were in Levi and we decided to do a snowmobile safari into the Lapland forests. There were 6 other tourists with us who also wanted to explore the Finnish forests on snowmobile. You need a driving license to drive the snowmobile and as Y didn’t have her driving license with her, I was the driver and she was my passenger. Our local guide briefed us on how to operate the snowmobile, e.g. how to accelerate and brake, as well as some of the safety features of the snowmobile. He said, “We could drive around 40 km in the forests but the exact length will depend on how fast all of you can go.”

I thought it was quite easy to operate the snowmobile but driving on snow was a really different experience from driving on concrete surface. When you drive a car on a concrete surface, you don’t really need to hold the steering wheel tightly when you are driving in a straight line. However, when you drive a snowmobile on snow, the snowy surface may unexpectedly push your snowmobile off tangent even when you seem to be going in a straight line. Because of this, you need to hold onto the handles quite firmly in order to control the direction of the snowmobile.

And that’s what I did not manage to do at the start. I lost control of the snowmobile and I could not seem to master how to turn the snowmobile and accelerate at a comfortable speed at the same time. Another key difference between driving a car on a concrete surface and driving a snowmobile through the forest is that the moment you let go of the accelerator, the snowmobile comes to a halt quite quickly. That is different from driving a car on a concrete surface as you need to step on the brake pedal in order to stop the car quickly.

In any case, I couldn’t master how to control the speed and the direction of my snowmobile and in the end, my snowmobile crashed slowly into a tree and the snow on the tree fell onto our heads. I know “crashed slowly” may seem like an oxymoron but that was exactly what happened. At very slow speed, the snowmobile bumped into the tree. That was how I got into my first “road accident”. Thankfully, the speed was slow and the snowmobile was not damaged. Some kind locals who were riding their snowmobiles through the safari helped us to move the snowmobile away from the tree. I apologised to Y and I felt bad for not being able to master how to drive a snowmobile. I thought to myself, “Maybe I can’t drive a snowmobile. Maybe this snowmobile safari was a bad idea. Let’s head back.”

Y looked at me and said, “It’s ok, don’t worry, try again.”

I was not sure why she had the confidence in me but her confidence in me gave me the courage to try again. Our guide came to help us and he made it a point that I was driving right behind him. So I got back onto the driver’s seat and focused on navigating the forest one bend at a time and one slope at a time. I started driving at around 20 km/ h and I focused on being a safe driver.

About half an hour later, I was quite comfortable driving the snowmobile and from that point on, I was driving between 30-40 km/h. I was glad that Y had faith in me and I did not give up because that was one of the highlights of the trip. I remember navigating some sharp turns in the forests and I remember speeding through the frozen lakes. I felt so alive and I felt so thankful to be alive to experience this.

 

Life has its bumps and life may seem daunting at times. But no matter what happens, take life one step at a time but make sure you put your best foot forward in that step. When life seems too overwhelming, breathe deeply and listen to that little voice in your head, “It’s ok, don’t worry, try again.”

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