I’ve lived in Salt Lake City for about a month now. This stay is the period on the end of a long and rambling sentence that tried to describe what I wanted from my life for the last several months (years?). Salt Lake has no streets; it has highways, interstate routes. It has no beer under $10, and few restaurants that aren’t chains. It’s flat, it’s grey, and its pollution makes Beijing look like Fern Gully. But Salt Lake does have one thing going for it.
From my house, it takes my trusty Subaru thirty minutes of sometimes dicey driving to reach Entry 4 at Snowbird. I work at Snowbird, but mostly, I ski at Snowbird. I also ski in White Pine, in Red Pine, in Grizzly Gulch. Salt Lake has mountains.
An unexpected change takes place when life, love and work all take you into the mountains daily. When my day begins, the sun is rising on the tips of white peaks as I drive up canyon. As my day ends, it sets behind the mountains to the West of the city, which is itself framed by the deep V of the valley mouth that fills my windshield as I drive down Little Cottonwood Canyon. Though my work imposes a certain sort of unnatural rhythm on my day, the rhythm of my mind and my body are driven by the movement of a day in the mountains.
To have skis under my feet every day gives me the freedom to become intimately acquainted with one mountain. I’m always driven to explore the big valleys and hanging bowls of the Wasatch, but to know the little closets and hallways of one mountain well enough to ski it in a blizzard gives me a funny feeling. It’s best compared to feeling at home. It’s a funny to feel like I drive up-valley to come home during the day, only to sleep elsewhere, but I think I like it.
My body is changing as it spends more time at home. It’s not as soft as it used feel. It’s smaller too, but warmer. My face now takes the wind readily, without getting pissed at the cold and the wind and the snow. They feel more like a cool, cleaning shower, especially when a slashing turn throws a breaking wave of snow into my mouth.
Living the dream, Rodney called it. When he said that, I wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t feel like I was spending my life how I wanted to. Those questions are gone now. It’s not that they’ve been answered, it’s just that they aren’t that important these days. Life is more about food and people and the mountains. It’s about the tiredness that feels like a warm blanket at the end of the day, and brilliant exuberance that fills my wordless mind when I fly down a slope that’s yet to be touched by my skis.
Occasionally, I get the impulse to start making tallies; Tallies of what I’ve managed to do, what I’d like to, step by step charts, action items. But that doesn’t last long when you’re tired, and the tiredness that comes from burning off my excesses in the cold snow might very well be the answer to all those pesky questions. Life, purpose, meaning. The philosopher’s luxury of time is also his curse. I’m going skiing.