Albert Einstein once said “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” So I compiled a list of things I now understand from my recent snowboarding adventure at Sugar Mountain.
#1: Only One Valuable Thing Per Pocket
Pockets are versatile and utilitarian. Don’t know where to put your hands while you’re talking? Pockets. Got something in each hand and need to get something else? Pockets. They are your best friend… until you use them incorrectly. Which is exactly what I did while perched 30 feet high on a ski lift.
A simple pocket transaction goes like this. Hand goes in; grab needed thing; hand comes out; needed thing retrieved. Simple, right? This time, the transaction went like this. Hand goes in, grab needed thing, RELEASE BONUS CONTENT, watch keys fall.
Putting more than one valuable thing in a pocket compounds the possibility of a faulty transaction. Wallet and toothpicks? Sure. Car keys and a stick of gum? Go for it. Earbuds and a lock of Miley Cyrus hair? That just… so many questions… but sure, fine, whatever…. weirdo.
#2: Snowblowers Are Incredibly Loud
I bet the snow resort industry turned a new leaf when this conversation happened.
Man 1: “This is the perfect place for a ski resort!… Too bad there’s no snow here.”
Man 2: “I think I can fix that.”
Man 1: “Really? How so?”
Man 2: “I’ve got some spare jet engines. We could put them every couple feet down the side of the mountain and shoot water out of them. That way we can make our own snow!”
Man 1: “Brilliant! What’s the downside?”
Man 2: “…….. What’d you say?”
I kid you not. In the time it took me to get off the lift, sit down, latch my right binding, and hurl my body into the foggy slurry of cold mist, my left ear was partially deaf for 20 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. Granted, I don’t claim to know the complex workings of my inner ear at all, but I was a little depressed after that. “This is life now. I’m deaf in one ear.” was what I was growing to accept until I realized I heard someone faceplant on my “deaf” side. OH HAPPY DAY!!!
Wear earplugs you say? Sounds logical (that was a hearing pun in case you missed it). I would have done that if not for the fear of missing Ski Elton John doing his speed trial for Sochi 2014 and interfering with his trajectory in a painful way. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad they bend the laws of nature to the customer’s favor. Snow is an integral part to snowboarding. I just wish they didn’t cause such a ruckus.
#3: All Hail the Coupon Book
It’s like a scientific law on the mountain. Gravity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between two masses; entropy will always exist when transferring energy; and the Winter Value Package coupon book is not to be questioned. Each coupon gives you something for free, thus I can only assume it makes it on par with the Stanfod Linear Accelerator. Generating matter out of next to nothing could prove dangerous if done on a wanton whim. The fate of humanity hangs in the balance.
How I learned this fact was while waiting in line for my second day ski pass. Thinking it would save time, I tore the voucher for my free ski pass out of the book so I could just hand it to the teller, saving valuable seconds. Upon reaching the teller, I handed her the voucher and awaited my aforementioned pass.
This must have severed the cosmos on a minuscule level. After collecting another person behind the desk to verify the voucher was, indeed, no longer in the booklet, I was met with awestruck stares. “You can’t remove the voucher from the book. It says that on the voucher.” My response of “Doh. My bad…… Are you serious?” apparently was not the proper response.
After being told that regardless of the stamped numbers matching the voucher to the booklet which also is linked to my identity which I could easily verify, I may have rebelled against their Doctrine of Deals quite a bit. It just seemed silly that a voucher’s worth turns to dust if a non-certified voucher-tearing person tears said voucher.
I may have gotten a little focused. I envisioned myself as Leonidas. My journey began, and in trying to keep this long story short, no one questioned the booklet. Other cashiers, ski lodge admins, even the lodge security was unable to go against the engraved protocol for fear of retribution. Finally, I was given a hearing with Joanie (whom I envisioned much like Xerxes) and she turned out to be quite pleasant. Even though the steps in getting my mistake corrected were asinine, she did offer to correct something I did out of blind stupidity and that was nice. +1 to Sparta.
#4: Don’t Do Something Just To Brag About It
Yeah. Not gonna lie. There was a serious part of me that wanted to do a black diamond and go “OOooohhh!!! Guess who just dominated that double black diamond?! THAT’D BE ME. OH YEAH.” Even though I was certain during the entire experience, my brain would be going “BAD. NO. STOP STOP STOP. YOU PROMISED YOUR WIFE YOU’D BE SAFE AND THIS. IS. NOT. SAFE. MATTHEW. JAMES. I.AM.USING.MYSERIOUSVOICEWHYDON’TYOULISTENTOME?!?”
All it took was standing at the top of “Whoopdedoo” to realize unless hurling my body off that ledge honestly sounded like fun to me, I shouldn’t do it. If I ONLY did it to take a picture. If I ONLY did it to tell someone. If I ONLY did it to post about it later… just don’t do it. Doing something just to brag about it suddenly felt immature and complete nonsense. Don’t get me wrong, my curiosity is going to get me into some pretty weird stuff, but it’s because I want the answer to that question. Not bragging rights. It will be a hard habit to break but it starts with baby steps… first step is away from that infernal cliff of death.
#5: Being Alone is Different Now
For those of you who don’t know me personally, I’m a huge introvert. I’m social, yes; but I need alone time to process life. After moving in and getting married, it’s like living with your best friend. Having “just me time” is one of the areas that becomes significantly reduced. No part of me regrets getting married, I’d like to state that clearly. I just struggle with the balance of “just me time” and “just us time” and “social time” and I know She knows all of this. She’s pretty tuned into me.
I say that because I have very fond memories of what life was like living on my own. Getting lost on my motorcycle just to see if I could find my way home. Going on long weekend trips that meander a little bit to see what I’m missing when I’m sitting on the couch. A surprise restaurant, vista, or shop that’s not on Google. Those things excite me. An explorer’s heart in an urban jungle is an odd mix and it always leaves me with wanderlust.
Usually, these things get me all excited and that’s how I satiate the wanderlust for a little longer. This time, leaving for the frozen wilderness for some “just me time” left me… not as satisfied as I’d hoped. My life has reached a turning point. I’d been searching each horizon constantly looking for something that would satisfy every part of this nagging wanderlust when I realized I was looking too far.
What kept me going was “the unknown”. If I “knew the unknown” then it might be better than what I know now. I think Einstein felt that way, but realized science and people were different things. That spirit to seek the unknown might always be with me giving me courage to tackle new things, but what happened on the mountain was pretty simple.
I realized the bar has been raised.
Starting my life now, as a husband, so many good things are happening that even when I’m tearing down the side of a mountain with perfect rhythm in a majestic winter wonderland… it pales in comparison to hearing my wife laugh. Hiking miles across the spine of a mountain just to watch the sun ignite a winter sky across the backs of sleeping giants feels hollow compared to having a snowball fight with the family.
We’re going to have ups and downs, but in marriage, joy is multiplied and sorrow is divided. All we have to do is figure out what numbers go into the equation. Sorry, world. Looks like that bar is pretty high right now…
… So what’s next?