The above quote by Mr. Twain was very much in my mind about seven years ago when I experienced a defining moment. In 2006 I had moved from Edmonton to Ireland with my then husband who had landed an incredible job with a company based in Dublin. About three years into our European experiment, on a dark December evening, I found myself looking forlornly through the windows of our apartment at a very bazar sight. Illuminated by a full moon the characteristic green Irish landscape was completely submerged under a thick blanket of white snow that had completely shut down the city. The gulf stream had diverted west of Greenland causing the worst snowstorm in twenty years.
My heart grew heavy as fat flakes drifted mesmerizingly earthward. I could feel an old familiar restlessness rise within me, and it just kept rising. All the frustration of a decade spent aching for a sense of meaning and purpose compressed into that one moment like a singularity. That night when it exploded into anger I had finally reached the critical threshold of discomfort necessary for action.
I knew what I was contemplating would entail a tectonic shift in my life that would be full of terrifying uncertainty and very real risk. But more importantly I knew, with certainty, that the only thing in the entire world that I wanted to be doing with my life was the one thing that was absolutely impossible. Because, in that entire snow filled country, there was not one skiable mountain.
Fast forward to present day, approximately five hundred and fifty days on snow, countless hours on a yoga mat and one transformative trip to India later. I find myself writing a blog series about Yoga for Skiers from my apartment in Canmore Alberta. For those of you reading who don't know, that is right in the middle of the magnificent Canadian Rocky Mountains! I am writing it out of an intense geeky interest in the subject and from the heart because it is on the topic of two of my greatest passions in life.
This blog series is for those on a quest to know the self through sport. For our purposes the landscape for the quest is the sport of skiing and the path, or method, or technology, or tool for self inquiry is yoga.
I am really hoping these words are connecting with the spiritual seekers, the heartsick wanderers and the relentless dreamers of the ski world. You know who you are. Those of you who have postponed plans or outright gambled everything on a mountain lifestyle, compelled by a need to experience the sublime that lies in a beautiful untouched expanse of snow. I salute you! You have left the perceived security of a common career path to drift from mountain town to mountain town in pursuit of a dream. Many would label you a Ski Bum stereotyping you as an aimless vagabond selfishly pursuing fun and forsaking the responsibilities of the real world. In this book the Ski Bum is the hero. So for you this will be a validation of your life choices.
And then there are the geeky sports medicine, sports psychology and physiotherapy types. I have a huge crush on all of you by the way. Additionally I am simultaneously hopeful and terrified that you are reading this because the arguments I will present for the efficacy of yoga as a multimodal approach to skiing skills development will be heavily under scrutiny. And well it should be. I hope what I present here generates a lot of discussion in the comments. It is so absurd to me how few skiers bother to warms up before skiing let alone engage in activities outside skiing that would maintain the health of their bodies to prevent injuries. This is a conversation that is well overdue.
Most of all I am hoping these words are connecting with those of you who are perched longingly on the edge of becoming the skier you want to be. Maybe that means you are wanting to embrace the quest to know the self through skiing or maybe it means you just want to feel more confident on blue runs. All is out there just waiting for you to make it happen. And I hope this blog series might spur you forward and make you see it's easier than you think.
Next Week: There Is Something Within That Does Not Like Limits