I’ve been skiing—sort of—for fifty years. I started on the golf course in Rock Port, Missouri, where I grew up, and didn’t actually make it to the mountains of Colorado until I was in my 30s. I tried to go for a few days every year after that, but there were some tediously long gaps. My trip before Christ
mas 2013 was the first time back in 22 years. I just returned from another wonderful three days in the snow that I was able to
share with my brother Ben and his son, Aaron. In more ways than one it was a marvelous trip.
Ben and I have skied together in Colorado three times now over a thirty-year span. He is one day short of exactly one year younger than I—62 and 63. Great memories. We always take pictures and have our picture taken to commemorate these events. With social media what it is today, it’s easy to share those photos with a muc
h larger audience (even if they couldn’t care less). I shared a couple anyway. Skiing has been just one of the adventures I’ve undertaken in the last year, and I’ve been amused by some of the comments my friends have made about my new lifestyle. Everyone is supportive and encouraging. Those comments that I sound and look “younger” I find especially entertaining.
Standing at the top of the mountain at Keystone last Friday morning, I thought about the metaphor I’ve always seen in ski runs. Ski a certain pattern
of runs there, and it’s almost three miles to the base. It was snowing like crazy—a couple of inches an hour at times—and the powder was piling up. Visibility was poor. It was difficult to see the best line to ski. After several days of brilliant sunshine and warmth, the snow beneath the fresh powder was hard and rutted despite the grooming. Spring Break season was just getting started. Early Birds had arrived and the mountain was crowded.
As we made our way down the mountain, we knew we were in for a hard day of skiing. The day before had been glorious, and I had spent it charging
downhill, carving turns, a
d exhilarating in the speed and control I was able to achieve. In Friday’s powder and heavy snowfall, however, I sometimes looked more like an out-of-control windmill broken loose from its frame. Too often we discovered the ski patrol tending to injured skiers—unfortunate vacationers being strapped to sleds and receiving first aid, surrounded by concerned friends and relatives.
We didn’t make as many runs that day as we’d hoped. After two days o
f skiing we were alread
y a bit sore and tired, so we didn’t want to take unnecessary risks, and we wore ourselves out in a hurry. It was good to test our limits and then call it a day.
It’s an easy metaphor: Life/Skiing. Am I at the top of the hill? Just over? On my way down and gaining speed? Lots of risks out there. Hard to see ahe
ad and the path can be rough and uncertain. When I’m honest with myself, my life is what I expected, however.
I don’t care. I’ve prepared for the journey. I have good gear and I’m in fair physical condition. Friends and relatives lend support (and are concerned at times). I have access to skilled assistance when I need it.
Do I feel younger? Look younger? Younger than what? Hel
l, no. I get older every second, but we all have since birth. I just try to get better with the experiences and enjoy the ride. It’s more fun when I have company, but I can make the trip by myself, too.
And I plan to get on the lift at the bottom.