Skiing uphill takes a long time, even when a gondola does most of the work. It gives you an opportunity to look around. To take it all in. To think about stuff that you usually wouldn’t think about, because you’re usually up to something more productive than slowly walking uphill just to come right back down again.
Sometimes you think about little things like how your boots don’t fit, or the the differences in French and Italian espresso, or how high 4,000 meters is in American and whether that has anything to do with why you’re so tired. But then other times you’re just kind of in awe of the mountains around you and that makes you feel small, and that makes you think about bigger things. And so here we have:
Cheesy Allegories (from France)
Ignore Everyone Else – It’s like a ski partner said once: “Ignore everyone else out here. They’re just a bunch of assholes trying to kill you.” It’s not necessarily that they’re bad people, but a lot of them are just out of their element. And when they’re setting skintracks in dangerous places, or kicking rocks on your head, or skiing way too fast for anyone’s good, they’re definitely trying to kill you, whether they know it or not.
The same goes for real life. Sure, outside of texting motorists most people won’t go out of their way kill you, but they’re definitely not worried about not killing you. And it extends to everything from business to waiting in the ice cream line. You do you, and think critically about where you’re going and the best way to get there. Who knows what all those other people out there are even up to, anyway?
- Don’t Waste Your Weather Window – It turns out it’s pretty easy to burn a few days sipping coffee, booking lodging, and comparing foreign McDonald’s to home. When you touch down for two weeks and you’re graced with warm, sunny days and freezing, starry nights, it’s hard to imagine that changing. “High pressure is stable! We’ll get the lay of the land today, ski that stuff tomorrow!”But then a storm rolls in and you’re stuck in town, forced to choke down espresso drinks and anise liqueur and strange cheeses. You blew it. Ski when it’s time to ski, screw off when it’s time to screw off*. It’s easy to think that you’ve got more time than you do, whether you’re trying to ski corn, write that screenplay, or make all that money in the stock market.
Chances are, the best you can probably rely on is about 30 more winters of skiing hard, and that’s assuming you don’t get pasted later on this week by some distracted driver. How many places do you want to ski? Are you going to make it?
- Know What You Want To Ski – Of course the other way to blow a weather window (or your irreplaceable youth, in case I’m not laying it on thick enough), is not having any idea what you want to ski. While just showing up and picking ski lines from a terrace while you sip espresso does, actually, kind of work in Chamonix, it’s not a great plan for getting the most out of a short trip. Maybe do a little research before you get on the plane.
And it’d be silly to seize the day and get to work on that novel you’ve been rolling around in your head if you have absolutely zero interest in writing a novel. The idea that we each have a linear path to happiness is kind of ridiculous, at some level most of us are kind of just bumbling our way through life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an idea of what you’d like to get mixed up in. You might only have 30 good winters left in your knees, but that doesn’t mean you’re dead yet and it’s not too late to pivot. What are you doing with yourself, anyway? Do you actually like it?
- If You’re Going To Screw Off, Enjoy It – Sometimes you miss weather windows. Other times you get off a plane in Guatemala City and your only plan is to hope that some guy who’s name you don’t know and whom you cannot contact will pick you up from baggage claim before you get murdered. That’s fine too! Know when you’re beat (or when you blew it), and just let it ride.Good weather in Chamonix is for skiing objectives, but sometimes it doesn’t come together. If that means you’re sipping espresso while you should definitely be skiing, then, well, shit. Roll a cigarette while you’re at it. If it means you got laid off from work, maybe take those unemployment checks and go to Canada. Or Mexico. Read a long book, drop into a steep line, and remember that skiing isn’t so different from life.
- Not Everyone Likes Hawaiian Music – Ok so this one is not one of the cheesy allegories. This is just the hard, straight, truth. As much as you and I know that the soothing vocals and hypnotizing ukulele of Isreal Kamakawiwo’ole is, like, real fucking relaxing, not everyone will always see it that way. Don’t ask me how I know. You’ve been warned.
*This logic built on the premise that skiing is somehow different from screwing off.Like