Sunday, November 30, 2008

On Top of the Mountain

On top of Lincoln peak late Saturday afternoon, the magnificent clear, cold light turning the snow covered peaks radiantly amber could never have been captured with a camera. Nor could the hue of the grins of father and son, satisfied with their commitment to be instructors consummated, be described as they stood together at the end of the day, looking back up the mountain to discover Venus and Jupiter in perfect alignment over the long, bumpy trail they had just skied.

And it was only the end of the first day of a long season to come.

Accustomed to being acknowledged as accomplished, it was a humbling experience to spend so much time this weekend with people whose job it is to inspire the turn of perfection in each of us. Guilty of flaunting my old equipment and out-of-date clothing, diving down headwalls with no warm-up after years of sporadic days on snow, I could relish the ease with which I could cut through moguls.

But over this weekend of training a rank amateur to a professional instructor status, I was challenged to throw off the bravado and work hard to make pretty turns. So used to offering tips to any friend, family, or struggling stranger in my path, as the rookie this weekend, I was constantly the receiver of pointers, an ankle thrust here and a hip rotation there. Countless times, people politely suggested I might do better with a pair of shaped skis from this generation.

Being one whose style has turned heads and collected whoops from the chairlift in the spray of his turns, this could have been a horrifying experience. Given all the humble pie devoured in these last years over home, business and marriage, I could have argued back bitterly. It could have been so easy to cry over the next dish of not being good enough.

Instead, the enthusiasm that all my new friends had for this winter sport at this World Class resort that tries harder (where else do they hand out hot cider to departing guests?), the professional commitment they show to spread the skills with love was inspirational. Quickly, I caught the sense of pride and responsibility to provide an exhilarating experience for young guests. In charge of the same group of kids all winter long, I can only hope they might one day talk to their children in the kind of glowing terms I talk about my skiing adventures and the mentor I had at their age.

A transformation occurred when I put on the instructor’s jacket and cruised the slopes with my compatriots. As good a skier as I have been over the years, especially in the early ones, the instructor’s jacket signified an elite, privileged few who skied the mountain and got paid for it.

Not only could I wear my own today, but I got to ride the lift with my son who had one too.
Please share with your friends


laughngrl said...

Good thing I had on my sun glasses as I admired that final picture. You and your son are beaming so brightly with those instructors' jackets on. I look forward to more tales from the mountain, Kip.

TheElementary said...

I'm sure you have plenty of tales from this adventure.
"Accustomed to being acknowledged as accomplished"... I thought that was a very profound perspective on learning and teaching, and what it means to be surrounded by people who can share their knowledge. Wonderful writing and the happiness shines through.

Laurie said...

This is what you wanted Kip! How awesome do you feel knowing you went for it and made it! I am so proud of you. The adventure on the mountain will be incredible. Some might actually call it a "mountain top experience" (tongue in cheek). Are you really getting to instruct all winter? WOW! Is your carpentry business on hold while your moguling? You give that jacket a special classy look. Enjoy the ride Kip! You deserve it, my friend.

Cricket said...

What a journey. You went for something positive in your life and you got it. I have to say my favorite line was the part about you "might do better with a pair of shaped skis from this generation." I can relate to this. I have a pair of golf-clubs that I love. Every now and then I drag them out and take them to the driving range. I get some strange looks. I like them. I still use them. I guess at times I should let them go.

I use to ski a great deal. The freedom is immense being out there in the wide open. I depended many of time on instructors to guide me back to the blues...ha.

I wish you the best on what lies ahead of you. I am sure this will be the best winter you have had in a while. It is great that your son will be on the mountain with you. Go for it! Get some new skis!

Suzann said...

Lovely post. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy!!!