“Sinking into it”

Mt. Rainier

Maybe I should only post photos here taken with my Blackberry! I grabbed this one at noon today while hiking “the King” at the top of Crystal Mountain. I couldn’t resist. Often, while hiking with skis weighing down my right shoulder, I’m inclined to get to the destination as quickly as possible. Today, I had to stop, drop the skis, fish the Blackberry out of my pocket and capture the view. It was so bright, I couldn’t see what I was shooting, but I could see blue at the top of the screen and a swatch of something white-ish across the middle of the frame, so I figured Rainier was “in”.

I used to have an issue with getting as many runs as possible while skiing. I figured that if I was paying $60 for a lift ticket, I’d better get my money’s worth. A couple of years ago, that all changed. I was at Crystal, making my way across the ridge toward the North backcountry on a clear day. I could see deep into the Cascades around Mt. Rainier – like this view only to the right of the right edge of this frame – as far as I could see, nothing but snow and mountains. I realized that I would spend $60 just to be there on that ridge at that moment. The feeling of urgency vanished. I still like to ski a lot of runs, but its no longer top priority.

I have written before about the difficulty I have sometimes with letting go of “doing” to allow for simply “being”, and I’ve written about my concern with the idea that the primary way we attribute value in our culture is in dollars. And those dollars are all related to how much we “do”.

Riding up the chairlift earlier this winter, I was talking with a guy who said that he had only skied 30 times this year and that he should have skied at least 50, but the conditions hadn’t allowed for it. He had paid x dollars for his pass and usually it added up such that he was under a certain number of dollars per day of skiing. It seemed like he felt that he was failing at a task that the mountain gods had set before him.

I wondered silently how much fun he was having any more… The urgency of “doing” something had completely eclipsed the experience of simply “being” with the mountain, with the snow, and with the skiing. He seemed so preoccupied with how many days he had already skied, how he could add more to that total, and what his cost per day of skiing was, that he wasn’t really enjoying the one he was in the midst of.

Maybe this struck me sharply because of my own epiphany while skiing that day a couple years ago that first allowed me to feel and note the difference between “being” and “doing”. The feeling that hit me was of peace and contentment. Nothing really changed. I didn’t stop or even slow down. The best way that I can describe it is that I “sank into it.” I can’t say that I always feel that way when I’m skiing, but it comes and goes now and usually I can find it again. Its a meditative kind of calm but while doing something very active.

Today may have been my last day in the mountains for a while. The ski season is winding down. I want to take this “bit” with me though. While I may have first noticed that feeling a while back, its this spring that I fully understand its significance. The palpable difference between “being” and “doing” that I feel when I’m on a high ridge with the sun shining and some white slippery stuff under foot can be had anywhere. I just have to remember to “sink into it”.

I haven’t written for a while about any of this “heavy stuff”… these are some of the things I’ve struggled with as a stay-at-home mom trying to find value in what I do. I realize how deeply they were and are a part of my experience of living, in most every area of my life. This “being” thing means I have to be ok with being me, just the way I am and who I am, and that I value my own experience just simply because its my experience. And on that note… I’m off to bed. If I try to think about that any more, I will get a headache!

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