I have a love hate relationship with skiing. Every winter when the white gold Colorado is famous for blankets the slopes, I question my paradoxical feelings. The boys start getting excited but I feel dread. Before you know it though, we’re geared up and off we go.
One of the issues is the gear. I can’t think of any other sport that demands so much stuff. Football players have a lot of equipment but they don’t bind things onto their feet or carry poles. Packing up takes a lot of effort. With two teenagers, who would forget their name if I wasn’t yelling it, making sure everyone has the necessary paraphernalia is like packing for a camping trip. You will forget one essential and either feel wet, cold, or hungry at the end of the day.
After making your best attempt with the pre-ski requirements once you get to the slopes you have to put the equipment on. A good pair of ski boots doesn’t allow any wiggle room and unless you live on the mountain you’re going to squeeze into those boots outside your car. This requires a great deal of flexibility because space is limited. In all your maneuvering you drop something like a glove, and have to search for it in your goggles. Now that you’ve exerted all your energy getting ready to ski, the breakfast you ate earlier isn’t sticking to your ribs. You hope you’ve remembered a Power Bar.
Feeling worn out before beginning, finally we’re on the ski lift and this is when the love affair with skiing begins. The chair starts to climb and everything quiets as you’re immersed in the glory of God’s creation. Moving uphill, you see His reflection in the trees lifting their hands with an offering of fresh snow. Each limb poised in an upward cascade toward the summit where you are dropped off and observe how far you’ve climbed into the landscape. With a bird’s eye view you catch sight of what only God sees every minute of the day, the horizon.
Fatigue gives way to wonder. Every anxiety that trailed you up the mountain drops to the ground with your 360 degree vista. You want to fly toward the boundary between earth and sky and find yourself where the sun sets. The future pulls you forward with promise and it’s magical.
What every skier knows is that this euphoric feeling can only be had again by skiing down and riding back up. It’s a cycle that requires strength, stamina, courage, and God. I say God, because, more often than not, in your pursuit you find yourself higher up than expected and prayer becomes spontaneous.
This is what I find exhilarating about skiing. You climb a mountain and conquer it. Not always with the finesse you might like, but even when you don’t look like Lindsey Vonn you can feel like a medalist. For as long as your light and legs last you eagerly chase after the horizon like a sailor would the sunset without worry about reaching it.
If I could live everyday with a skier mindset the mountains I have to climb would look purpose-filled and the ride down feel thrilling. I would worry less about touching the future and be content to just keep my heart and mind turned toward it. I could see the things that weigh me down as a means to an end and press on. I would remember that the view from the top is always the best perspective and look up not down. This might mean I’d find fewer pennies, but the perspective change would be worth it!