Post Ski-week Story Time

February 27, 2012 / Aaron

As most of the Bay area goes back to work after ski week, I thought I'd share with you a favorite skiing story of mine. Some of you will be familiar with it from class last week.

At the very top of a mountain I once saw an old man hunched over his ski poles looking out across the valley watching the sun set. His eyes were sunken. His face was rough and wrinkled like a man who'd been beaten by life. He looked defeated. Maybe a man of that greatest generation. He looked as if he no longer belonged at the top of such a mountain. A relatively thin trail led straight down to several options for the run to the bottom. All options were very difficult.

I almost asked him if he was okay. I watched him. He motionlessly watched the sun and the mountains as the wind blew. And then, as if he'd had enough, he purposefully stood up straight and begin to ski straight down the ridge without turning. He took his hands straight out to the sides like in capital T, opened his heart, and looked up at the sky like he was just absorbing that moment. He then made a sharp cut to the left and starting bobbing and weaving down the mountain like an unbridled, young pro.

I realized two things immediately: 1) he was a way better skier than I was. 2) He was full of life. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. He quickly went out of site and I never saw him again. Who knows what went through his heart in the moment. It could've been his last run ever. If it was, it was surely a fitting end, but I don't believe that.

For me, there's a thrill to skiing. There's a thrill in the moment where the mind has a one pointed focus. Everything else falls away and there's a focus on the bumps, jumps, ice, slush, and the puzzle coming at you at speed. There's a bit of zen in that. There's the thrill of being alive, the creativity of the moment, the feeling of being connected with something greater. There's a little risk. Harnessing something so massive, yet feeling so humble and open. For me it has a way of cutting to the core of what I might be feeling about my life.

Yoga does this to me too, albeit at a slower speed. There's a bit of a puzzle, a bit of zen, a bit of risk, a little fear, a connection to something bigger than ourselves. Work to stay healthy. To experience. To be full. Be full, friends. Happy ski week.