28 November 2009

COLORADO COLLEEN: Alpine Skiing as Spiritual Exercise

Photo by Colleen Smith
Riding a chairlift in Vail's back bowls after a big snow in spring 2009

Skiing at its best is a spiritual exercise that takes us out of time and space and puts us up in the rarified air where-- according to many traditions--divinity resides.

Skiing has this restorative effect on me: Imagine one of those dry-erase boards. Imagine the board's surface riddled with writing and mathematical problems and lists of things to do and calendars with deadlines and shopping lists and packing lists and receipts and recipes and diagrammed sentences and notes-to-self and deadlines and worries and regrets and wonderings and musings and interview questions and passing thoughts and vocabulary words plus some random memories of dreams and welling insecurities and doubts and bothers and irritations and unanswered email and Facebook and posts I've been meaning to write for my blog and other demands. And did I mention deadlines?

Then, imagine that with every turn made on a ski run, an eraser wipes over that cluttered dry-erase board. Each turn wipes the slate cleaner and cleaner until all that's left is white. All that's left is the snow.

All that's left are the thoughts about when and where and how to turn, the sublime sight of jagged mountain peaks and the towering, fragrant forest and the ineffably blue sky, the thin air and the thick skin of my feet aware of snow and speed and fall line. All that's left is the feeling of flying, strafing the slopes, my season pass fluttering against my splashing heart working overtime at 11,000 feet above sea level. All that's left is gratitude for the experience and the ability and the opportunity and the exhilaration of the Alleluia sport and the heavensent snow.

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