A Perspective On Learning:
“I can’t believe you don’t like skiing alone. You love ALONE more than anyone else I know.”
I have no difficulty dismissing the opinion of those who profess to know the inner workings of my mind. Usually, they don’t. I question their motivation when they try. Yet, this statement had resonance. This perception from the boy child who had closely observed and scrutinized my movements over the course of his entire life could not be easily dismissed. And he did in fact have a point. I generally do love ALONE.
My son has seen me curl up with a good book pretty much anywhere, including but not limited to the red leather chair, bed, any number of beaches in Vancouver, the beach house in Ventura, the motor boat on Silver Lake, tents, parks, and any number of pools and hot tubs. I travel to conferences alone. I dance on my own at festivals. I walk, jog, bike by myself happily. I use to swim so far out at Sasamat Lake or Spanish Banks that he worried that I might not be able to make it back to shore. Ventura Beach was another story on account of the seals that would roll up on the beach each summer to die on account of the chomp out of their side compliments of a hungry shark. The looming possibly of a shark visit sucks the joy out of ALONE in the depths of the ocean.
I have skied alone when my previous job was particularly stressful and busy. I’d head to Whistler and pretend I didn’t speak English to sidestep playing hostess on the chair. I had pleasant days but didn’t walk away with the sense of euphoria I often garner on a ski day. Many happy days have unfolded with friends, family, or students over the years at the Whistler – Blackcomb Ski Resort, Cypress Mountain, Seymour, Big White and Mount Baker.
My son’s advice. Earbuds and a great soundtrack are the answer. I had a chance to try it out this past week. The strained Achilles tendon of my favourite ski/snowboard buddy knocked him off the slopes of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains and into the realm of rest, ice and ibuprofen. I was on my own for most of the week. I was graced with sunny skies and headed to my favourites – Symphony and Rhapsody Bowl on Whistler Mountain equipped with Apple earbuds that fit comfortably under my helmet and Pachabel, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, 5th and Piano Sonata No. 8th in C Minor, cellos with Vivaldi, harpsichords with Bach, clarinets with Brahams, and strings with Mozart. Favourite runs, my Nordica Santa Ana’s, sunshine, and perfectly paired classical favs provided the induction to euphoria while skiing alone.
Two additional elements have accompanied my new love of skiing alone. One is having a level 4 ski instructor for a friend who gives me a manageable number of skiing tips to focus on and a healthy dose of positive reinforcement for my efforts. Skiing alone allows focus on skill development rather than keeping up or keeping track of your ski / boarding buddies. And regardless of age, there is a pride in getting better at something you are trying to improve.
Upon reflection I have come to terms with the other element required for joyfully skiing / boarding alone. I am a people person. I talk to strangers. I love hearing other people’s stories and telling my own. When I’m on the chair with someone else or a group, I choose whether I’ll start a conversation and include the stranger on the chair or in the gondola. On my own, others decide whether you will be invited into their conversation or left to entertain yourself. The earbuds give me the power to decide if I’m opting in or out. That is the game changer. I define my own comfort zone. That is familiar. And so apparently skiing is something I can do alone and enjoy. Good to know. My new quest is matching runs and my mood with the perfect playlist. Joni Mitchel, Katy Perry, David Bowie, Queen and Billy Joel never fail me. I won’t abandon off piste fun or camaraderie of friends and family but it is nice to have outdoor options that are fun.