Many blessings to all of you beautiful people,
I wish that your week has been filled with loving moments and beauty throughout all the challenges and experiences you’ve had to face, to which you’ve come out victorious.
This past week has been full of new experiences for me. I got to take part in my first actual Thanksgiving. We spent 5 days prior fixing up the house and the surrounding farm to tip top shape. It was a family effort and many people came over every day to lend a hand. We trucked off trailers full of garbage and gave the house a floor to ceiling cleaning. We then had to devise a seating plan that could fit at least 30 something people. Each of us took turns playing around with seat ideas. My suggestion turned the table into a huge phallus which did help to bring chuckles and lighten the mood, but it was incapable of seating everyone. It took a bit of deliberating, but my friends Emily and Elina finally cracked the puzzle.
When the big Thanksgiving day came, it was an amazing feast with lots of good souls. Having not grown up around my extended family (my mum is one of 10 kids, so my family gets pretty extended..) I really enjoyed being a part of this big family gathering and I was made to feel as one of the clan. The highlight for me that day was a conversation I had with Josh.
“What are you doing over the next couple days?”
“Nothing really planned.”
“Sweet dude, we’ll go snowboarding then.”
This was sweet music to my ears. Josh and I have gone on several adventures together, mainly kayaking, but this one would be special for me. You see, growing up on a Caribbean island, I have never seen snow. I was unable to assume what it feels like or anything, because I’ve never had an experience that I could use as a base reference, unless you count Snow-Cones in the bus terminal in Bridgetown, Barbados (For those of you that don’t know, a snow-cone is shaved ice that is squirted with different flavoured syrups, really refreshing on a hot day).
What excited me more was that I’d finally get to try my spirit sport. Some people believe in spirit guides, they typically take the form of an animal and guide us to our soul’s desires for this lifetime. I know that one of mine is a hummingbird, every single time I hear the brrr of their wings, my heart melts and I’m overcome by serenity. The thought of snowboarding has always taken up a similar space in my heart, and now I would get to put it to the test.
As I write this, my muscles and bones are still slightly throbbing. My gluteus maximus has a purple heart shaped bruise on it, which acts as a reminder of my adventure every time I sit down. I tried snowboarding for the first time this weekend, and the adrenaline rush and euphoria I experienced I believe has destined me to return to the snow this season.
Do you believe in spirit guides? They typically take the form of an animal and are believed to guide us to our soul’s desires for this lifetime. I know that one of mine is a hummingbird, every single time I hear the brrr of their wings, my heart melts and I’m overcome by serenity. I’ve never really heard anyone ever mention it, but I’ve always had an incline that snowboarding would be my spirit sport. This was odd for me to put my finger on as I had never experienced snow prior to this weekend.
I had no idea what the characteristics of the snow were. No idea how it really looks besides white, no idea how it feels.
Regrettably, I didn’t get to write my name in the snow with urine, but that is merely motivation for me to return.
We left early in the morning so that by mid-afternoon we could be all set up at the lodge.
As we drove, on the flat lands the sky was clear enough that I could see the snow-capped mountains in the distance, and I could feel my heart beating louder. The further we went the more I could feel the air becoming crisper. The cold air kissing my cheeks and nostrils invigorated me.My mind kept fantasizing about snowboarding so much that I didn’t realize the moment that we had driven past the snow belt. I noticed more white in my peripheral vision and this made my head turn. The ground was no longer brown with green blotches of grass. Mother Nature now blanketed herself in fluffy white snow and the trees draped themselves with tassels of fine silk. The scenery was straight out of a Christmas movie, and finally I was starring in it. I immediately wanted to get out of the car to let all my senses experience it, but Josh didn’t want to stop as we were on the highway and he wanted to reach our destination asap. I thought a change of approach was in order so I said, “Let’s smoke a joint” and 20 seconds later we found a suitable pull-out to park in so the joint could be rolled. I pulled my shoes and socks off and jumped out of the car. Toes spread wide, eyes closed, I could feel the coldness emanating from the ground beneath me. I could sense too that it was very fluffy, unlike anything else I’ve ever felt before. Opened eyes and open hands I could now see that each snow flake landed and stuck to the other as they hit the ground. So rather than clumping up into a big mess it was instead balanced into a tetris like matrix.
Before too long, feeling in my feet were diminishing, so I retreated back to the car. Continuing our drive with smoke billowing out the windows, I contemplated the texture of the snow trying to figure out how it’s anatomy would allow me to float atop of it. It may sound like I was overthinking the snow a bit, but this felt like a religious pilgrimage to me. My snow bar mitzvah. A new element. A new world.
A few hours later we pulled into Squaw Valley and checked into the hotel. It was beginning to get cold as the sun set, so we ate and then explored the facilities of the hotel. I don’t experience commercial luxury too often, so it was a nice change. The dry hot air and steam saunas along with the jacuzzi were to my liking. I couldn’t wait to get to sleep so that I could wake up to the new day.
Remember those days as a child on Christmas morning waking up early over anxious for your parents to wake up so you could open your presents?
That’s what my excitement was like. Josh must’ve felt it too as he was up early and went to the gym to pass time until the lifts opened. As I neared the level of bursting at the seams, Josh and I decided to go rent my equipment so we could be one of the first people up the lifts. As I commonly experience a lot of places I go, I got the only and largest pair of boots and due to my height my board was about half a foot shorter than the recommended height to board length ratio. Didn’t matter to me though, I now had my apparatus for my grand experiment. I talked the guy into giving me a young adult ticket which was significantly cheaper, and we made our way to the lifts.
When it was our turn to board the gondola, we politely informed our cart mates that we intended to “burn on the way up”’ to which they replied “only if you pass that shit.” That was bogus words on their part as they were actually the ski-med emergency team so they had to decline when it came time to toke as they needed to be at optimum performance to carry out their job. “Have fun breaking your snow hymen but don’t go breaking your arms” was one of the skiers parting words to me. This was the start of the intermediate slope that was 2 miles long. We went up a second lift to reach the summit where the warm-up slope lay.
Finally, we were on top of the mountain. I could feel my heart beating in my chest. Feet buckled to the board, I leaned my weight forward and started to slide down the hill. I so wanted to begin my experience I didn’t even listen to what my friend was telling me. I really didn’t think it mattered. I cut diagonally across the hill and tried to turn.
The wind rushed past me and for 5 seconds I really felt alive. Then it occurred to me that I didn’t know how to stop, which is what Josh was trying to explain. I pondered this as the front of my board dug into the snow and catapulted me over landing head first into a very disjointed looking somersault. Josh skidded to halt alongside of me cracking up with laughter.
“That’s one way to learn” he commented at my head on approach.
“At least you’re not scared to fall, and that’s a good thing.”
First fall out of the way, I was now more receptive to learning about what I should be doing. Josh explained how to ride on my heel edge, and also how to do the falling leaf, labelled the one critical move that is absolutely vital to snowboarding safely.
Honestly, I wasn’t taking in much of it, I just wanted to go. In the days leading up to here, I read and watched as much tips and techniques about snowboarding as I could find. Now I craved action instead of words. Seeing my stubbornness, Josh told me that he would go down the full 2.5 mile course and catch up to me to see how I was doing at figuring it out.
10 minutes later, I probably only advanced 200 meters down the slope, having fallen about 17 times hurting my ass, my wrists, my right knee and my pride. I could feel that my muscles were strong enough to perform all the moves, my mind just couldn’t figure out how to do it. And watching the little kids whizz by me only added to my frustration. I realised that I wasn’t feeling cold at all, in fact, quite the opposite. My chest had already soaked my under layers with sweat and my legs were sweating profusely. I had to near the point of exhaustion before I caught on that maybe I was wearing too many layers.
I took a couple minutes to breathe while sitting to the side of the slope. I calmed my mind down, then stood up. I was sliding and I wasn’t falling. I was doing it, really snowboarding or so I thought.But now I was nearing an out of bounds sign, the slope had a sharp corner that I clearly wasn’t following. I activated my renditioned stopping mechanisms and planted my butt firmly into the ground. The softness of the snow welcomed me. I giggled, turned myself into the right direction and stood up.
“Uh Oh…” I thought as I flew down the hill.
“This feels like ice underneath me,” I thought as I began to speed-wobble.
“This is probably going to hurt” I thought as I felt my balance fade…
I instinctively put my arms up to protect me. My right forearm hit the ground and I could feel my shoulder pop out of place briefly before snapping back into place.
I screamed out in a mix of pleasure and pain, I could see that I couldn’t handle much more falls like that.
What more, I was right by the tree line . As I tried to stand up again, I felt the snow beneath me giving way to reveal a small stream next to the tree line. I quickly lay myself flat to provide me with enough surface area to not sink. I did a snow based breast stroke to manoeuvre back to stable terrain.
Many minutes and falls later, I made it back to the start of the intermediate slope. I went back on the gondola to the top of the summit and went down the warm-up slope another two times before Josh caught up to me. My face was flushed, my chin was dripping, my ass felt like it was bleeding, I felt dizzy like I was about to pass out.
“Woah dude, looks like you’re wearing too many layers. Anyways, it’s time to go check out of the hotel room, so you better get on the lift heading down the mountain and I’ll meet you at the bottom.”
“No. I’ll go down the intermediate slope.”
“Hahahahaha! We only have 30 minutes, not 2 hours. Just take the lift down” Josh said as he began to skate away into the distance.
I was boiling mad now. Who the fuck tells me what to do? Who the fuck tells me I can’t do something?
My ego prevented me from seeing that Josh was only acting in my best interest. I grumbled and cursed under my breath as I made my way to the lifts heading downwards, the only person on the hill that needed the lift to make it to the bottom.
“Have a nice day” chimed one of the lift attendants. I scowled as I premeditated hitting him with my board. Once on the lift suspended in mid air alone, I began shouting and swearing at the sky as loud as I could. I shouted and shouted and shouted until my anger dissipated. Laughter then took the place of my shouting. By the time the gondola reached the bottom of the hill, I could feel my mind at peace, but my body was still on edge. I needed to take off some of these layers, so I hurried back to the room. I was shocked to see Josh already in the room, apparently arriving well over 10 minutes before me. I apologised to him for all the bad words and ill intentions I psychically threw his way on my lift ride down.
I find these days that even if I think ill of a person without their knowledge, I still feel obligated to apologise. This is to right my dharma so it doesn’t affect my karma. Thoughts are the foundational blocks of our reality, so any thoughts to do wrong to some else must be corrected so that it doesn’t come to pass. At least this is what I tell myself. Maybe it’s pointless, but who knows? It at least helps me to rest easier.
Apologies over, I took off the unnecessary layers, and my body instantly aligned with my mind, coming to a state of ease. We packed up our things, checked out of the room and made our way back up the slope.
That break was really welcomed. I was in an optimal headspace. Josh began speaking poetically of the snow. Referring to it as an infinite wave, he described how leaning more to the heel or toe edge allowed a small wave of snow to form on the board which levitated him across the terrain. I dug this new schema. I needed to give in to the flow, not the urge to go.
Back on top of the mountain, I told Josh that my body was more than capable of performing all of the manoeuvres, my mind just didn’t know what to tell my body. I asked him if he could ride behind me shouting pointers to me and guiding me in the right technique.
This is where I saw my friend’s expertise come into play. He is a perfectionist in the way he does things, and this characteristic was very in my favour. First he figured out the correct words to say to get me to do the correct move. It was as if I was a game character and he held the controls in his hand.
“Keep your weight in the centre! Bend that right leg! Bring your left foot forward!”
Like that arcade dancing game, every successful move I made was rewarded with “Well Done! Excellent! Perfect dude!”
The improvement was instantaneous. My ass to snow ratio decreased dramatically. With each move my body made, I was becoming more aware of what it needed to do in what situation. I could feel muscle memory forming already.
In less than 5 minutes I was back by the lift and staring at the entrance of the intermediate slope. “Not yet” I thought to myself.
Two warmup runs later and I made my announcement to Josh.
“Now” I nodded as I leaned my body forward to start building some momentum.
At the risk of sounding cheesy [but because you’re reading this you’re already in my headspace, so enjoy the show], the guitar solo from the ‘Eye of the Tigre’ was ringing loudly in my head.
Going down the first hill I was moving more rapidly than my previous average, but I had this. More speed and more speed,then I saw the corner quickly approaching, and I still had yet to learn how to turn so sharply. But no fear lives here. I brought my back foot (left, cause I’m goofy) next to my right and dug my heels into the snow.
“Qrrrssshhh” said the snow beneath me as I slowed significantly in the Falling Leaf pose. Because the corner angled towards the left and I was more comfortable on my heel edge, I leaned into the slope in regular stance. When it cut back to the right I did the Falling Leaf again, then sitting down to rest before the next slope.
“I’ll wait for you below this slope” Josh said as he rocketed down the hill ever so gracefully.
Seeing him go down, I noticed just how steep this particular slope was; damn.. To make it worse, I was on the edge where I felt I could only go down in regular stance, which I’m not as confident in, and I was sitting so close to the decline that I gained crazy speed the moment I stood up.
I made my way down this particular slope through a series of falling, summersaulting and butt planting.
When I caught up to Josh, we sat down and he discussed strategy with me for the next slope. You see, this hill was very long with a long flat after, so the discussed strategy was to Falling Leaf most of the way down, then straighten out to get enough speed to clear the flat.
As I began to go down it, Josh stayed behind me coaching me as before. His tone sounded more serious which disclosed some of his worry for me. I could hear my heart beating in my chest now. A third of way down the hill and all was going fine. The little voice in my head started to scream louder than Josh’s words.
“Fuck it! Just Go! Fuck it, Just Go!” it kept screaming.
Fuck it then. I angled my feet back into goofy positioned and instantly I took off.
Toe edge, heel edge and back again. I could feel the infinite wave under me and I was carving it. I could tell I was going really fast because my hair was blowing straight back which occurs at around 15 mph. I felt ultimately present at that moment.
At one point I caught a little speed wobble, but I inhaled and righted myself. I got to the bottom of this slope and shot down the straight. My adrenaline was pumping, my muscles were shaking and I was giggling like a child. I Falling Leafed myself to a halt, dove chest down on the snow and hugged it.
I could tell from Josh’s face that he was just as stoked as I over what just happened.
We finished off the rest of the run and went to eat some food. As the adrenaline began to wear off, I could feel the fatigue ebbing and pain throbbing throughout my body.
I was sore and unable to do another run for the day, but I was happy. On the drive home, I’d have spontaneous euphoria attacks over what I’d done.
Reflecting on the events of that day, I really want to encourage all those of you who are still reading to strive for what it is you want. And when the time comes that life presents your desire to you, be ready to dive in, and ride the infinite wave.
May we all continue to rise in Love together,
The Red Lion.