Monday, November 17, 2008

Slippery Slopes

Even as I express concern over taking on too many activities, a casual conversation has quickly evolved into a serious winter commitment.

These many changes this year, have brought into question the most basic foundations of relationships, home, hometowns, and even careers. The business of carpentry has not served me well, making me wonder if I should even continue to hammer at the trade.

My son and I were discussing career alternatives one evening recently in regard to both our lives. The focus was on teaching high school, both of us particularly interested in English, but he suddenly quipped that I should be a ski instructor.

At his age, living in the Philadelphia suburbs (a “flatlander”, they call us in Vermont), I yearned to live a life on snow. I was skiing enough to love the lifestyle more than any girl, and imagined skiing adventures much more clearly than any concept of marriage.

My first job was in a ski shop. My third was washing dishes at dawn and dusk so I could ski in daylight. Anyone who knew me well was surprised that I had not only settled for love over skiing, but actually married a woman who had no interest at all to slide down mountains in the cold.

My sister and her husband have long advocated that I teach skiing as the most joyful combination of my skills and talents. They saw the light in my eyes, the bounce in my turns, the utter delight I exuded when playing with their kids and mine on Oregon slopes.
Back then, I even combined the sport with my dreams of writing by publishing articles in Skiing Magazine. Travelling the Northwest, enjoying fresh powder and awesome lodging, all expenses paid, seemed a life too good to be true...and so it faded.

When my son suggested I instruct this winter, I faltered. In these last few years, we have had some exhilarating days on snow, just 30 minutes from home to a wonderland that, in my stressed and impoverished circumstances, seemed more than I could afford, but was worth every effort to create and cherish such grins on our faces.

Just a quick call to a friend was all it took to get us both jobs at Sugarbush. I suppose the New England Puritan ethic must have a stronger grip on me than I imagine as I contemplate a winter of dancing on moguls and slicing powder tails on pristine mornings; how else do I explain the fear that enshrouds this vision?

I worry about the gas and long hour of commute each way, the cost of boots and skis (even recycled). Already concerned over a plate too full of activities, I have commited to every Saturday and Sunday coaching a group of rambunctious pre-teens who might easily run this old man ragged. And deepest in my bones, it is just plain hard for me to imagine we could be on this Earth to have so much fun.

But half the weekends I get to romp with my son, sharing tunes on his IPod and tales of splendid bumps and crashes. We will spend time together that will count for so much to me once he has gone to college and on to a life of his own. With my new schedule of independence, I am blessed to be able to provide this opportunity for us to play.

And to get paid for it all as well! Yo-da-lay-hee-hoo!
Please share with your friends


persistentillusion said...

It sounds potentially AWESOME! And, since countries are producing less, they are using less oil and thus gas in cheaper. So maybe your commute won't be that bad!

laughngrl said...

This is clearly your year to indulge in the pleasures you've held back on for so long. I look forward to hearing tales of your mountain adventures. You may end up overwhelmed with activity, but isn't that better than the alternative?

Laurie said...

Sounds like you have hit on something that hits your authentic self. That is what you should be shooting for. Doing something that hits the core of who you are, what excites you. This brings you to life. Do it without worrying if you should. Do it and enjoy every moment. Don't think about being an old man! You are not an old man. You are old enough to know to go for your passion and how important that is and young enough to still do it. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

You write with such passion about skiing that those pre-teens can't help but be won over by it. Have fun and when you have time come back her and tell us all the stories.