This weekend as I was starting a garden and doing yard work in the bright New Mexican sun and the almost ever present crisp blue skies I thought how just a couple of weeks ago that green grass and garden sat under a couple inches of snow due to a late April storm. Just another couple weeks before that I was still at my “fun job” working as a Ski Instructor for Ski Santa Fe. That last week saw some big dumps of snow. One of them was so heavy that half of the upper mountain had to be closed for the better part of one day due to avalanche danger. Something not often seen when skiing inbounds at a ski area.
I spent nearly 90 days on skis this last season and loved most every minute of it! I was getting paid to do what people dream about doing as they grind away in their cubicles until they get a chance to take a holiday. When they come up to the mountain, they’re not thinking about politics, their jobs or even their day to day problems. If they are wise they leave those things down the mountain. If for no other reason that makes going up the
mountain good for the soul.
As a professional skier, I am always striving for the perfect carve in my turns whether that is on a groomed run, through some gnarly bumps, or in the deep powder stashes through the tight trees on a steep hidden glade that only the locals know exist. Our Ski Instructor uniforms, technical talk, and stamina from doing cardio every day at 12K feet in elevation sometimes intimidate the recreational skiers that we teach coming from the big cities to our cozy area. Being cognizant of that we try hard to put them at ease and to remind each that they should use the “F” word often…Fun!
We truly want our students and guests to relish in the joy of the sport, a joy that grows exponentially the better they ski. We might make judgments about their turns but never about them. That sounds like an easy thing to do, and it is when you are in the mountains getting paid to hang out with people on vacation. However, it is a little more difficult in our daily lives. Coming from a law enforcement background I was quite judgemental, I had to be. I had to make determinations about someone’s state of mind, motives and not the least their intent to do me harm. That existence will make anyone jaded to one degree or another. In fact, I would submit that if it did not, you would not be very good in that job, but that is a topic for another day.
As I engage people now whether it is on the snow or in the pages of a novel I work hard to be nonjudgmental in putting forth any point of view that might take away from the experience. Just as I strive for the perfect carve on my skis I strive for the perfect word, sentence, paragraph, passage and story.
Life is a yin and yang existence. That Eastern philosophy describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected and interdependent in the natural world. The snow that covered my garden nourished it with moisture. Being judgmental in one job is required while in another the opposite is true. For going up the mountain to be good for the soul, one must first leave the bad down the mountain.
I’m blessed, I get to see the mountains every day. Either from my backyard, as I drive through the city or as I descend from their peaks in a way that only a bird or a fellow skier can relate to. If I’m wise, I’ll remember to leave the bad “down the mountain,” even if the mountain is only a frame of mind that day.
I hope that you do too!