As the flakes continue to fall, the vertical feet passing beneath my skis continue to mount. On some days, the legs are empty or the back is sore, but being on those planks never fails to replenish me, mentally and spiritually. The act of linking turns never gets monotonous. Each outing has its own challenges, minor victories, close scrapes, those nuances that distinguish one from the next. To appreciate these small differences, to embrace the freshness of each day is to understand how to make it through this life.
Slaves as we are to schedules, routines, and the other accoutrements of roteness, it is no wonder that we begin to feel like automatons. Our motions are robotic, portending some horrid cyborg future. The alarm pings at the same moment, we sleepwalk through the morning, our computers further lull us into a fugue state, meetings pass in a blur, we feed ourselves and our kin, hit the hay, and then it is time to do it again. Multiply that by years and then decades and there does not seem to be enough to constitute a meaningful existence.
At first blush, one could make the same dreadful conclusion about skiing. The lifts are the same, the runs are the same, the parking fees are the same, there is no deviation unless one has an RV and road trips to a different destination each day or week. Viewing anything through these smoke-colored glasses, especially something as dynamic as outdoor activity, is overly simplistic, superficial, and unimaginative.
Begin at the molecular level. The crystalline structure of each snowflake is unique. When they are falling by the millions, the ensuing lattice is subject to infinite variation. Then, factor in the wind, its direction, its shifts, its gusts. Sunshine or lack thereof has its own effects, as do skier traffic, avalanche bombs, and the other artificial and natural inputs. And that is simply the snow surface.
Now add into the mix your partners for the day. They may be slow, fast, stoked, bummed, funny, depressing, or a combination of all of these. They may be visiting from Georgia or born in the high country, each presenting their own set of circumstances. If you are rolling solo, you may be at peace amongst the laden firs or exposed to the sublime and ridiculous of the larger skiing public.
The combination of snow quality, human factors, and your own mood conjoin to imbue each individual day with its own vibe, that overarching intangible that dictates how the day is imprinted in your memory. It is not always positive, surely. Your rhythm may be off, you may crush your shoulder into a tree, you may witness a gruesome accident on the hill. But, you may also encounter unexpected powder shots, may meet the love of your life, may finally stomp that cliff that you have been eyeing for years.
This perspective is not limited to riding; it is easily extrapolated to adjust a dour worldview. Each waking moment brings its own potential for discovery, for disaster. Every second is influenced by so many factors that it is literally untrue that each is the same, even if the only difference is one of your billion cells multiplying (or dying, if you want to be difficult about it).
A commute can be soul-sucking, if you let it, but it can also be a time to soak in that new podcast and enrich yourself. You can be a worker drone, anesthetized and average, or you can seek out every opportunity to become a queen bee. Assuming that things will be the same forever closes your mind to the possibilities for adventure, for surprise, for fear, and for joy.
While it is the big occasions that get all of the attention, we are better served transmogrifying the supposedly mundane into the momentous. Revel in the small and your life will be big.