Should You Keep Your Joy to Yourself?

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This is the moment to feel joy

As I stood at my locker the other day after skiing, a fellow ski patroller said to me, “So I hear you’ve been skiing powder?” He paused while I nodded. Before I could continue he said, “I don’t want to hear about it.”

I smiled and nodded. “Okay.” I turned back towards my locker, switched off my avalanche beacon and stored it next to my radio.

“I mean,” he said. “I know where you’ve been.”

I shifted around. “I thought you didn’t want to hear about it.”

He smiled and admitted that he kind of did want to know about skiing in Japan, and had heard that I’d recently been to Big Sky.

“I drove up to Cypress yesterday for a book signing and got back at midnight,” I told him, unclipping my helmet. “I didn’t even bring my skis.” I hung my head a little hoping to invoke a little pity. “I had to drink one of those 5 Hour Energy things I picked up at a gas station just to stay awake.”

Life is fleeting

“But you were in Japan.” He said flatly.

“Yes”

“And?” He smirked. It was killing him.

“And it was awesome.”

“I thought so.” Satisfied, he turned away.

Hiding your joy is funny business. Sometimes it seems the right thing to do. Whenever I tell another patroller about a recent trip, I emphasize the travel time and the pain-in-the-neck parts of it. I remind them that John and I actually flew for two days in order to ski for two days in Japan. Most people wouldn’t do that. It’s not all face shots and glory, I say.

But it was awesome? They want to know. And I tell them, yes, it was awesome. Some people don’t want the details; they just want to keep the flame burning on their own desire.

People wonder if writing a book is that way. I’m hesitant to say that yes, sharing my story is incredibly validating. I rarely mention that becoming an author has always been on my list of best-case-scenarios. That it is something I’ve dreamed about, imagining my book out there in the world. Instead, I tell them that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s hard to keep putting yourself out there (which is true), waving your book in the air like an idiot, hoping someone will buy a copy.

I tell people that it’s a heck of a lot easier to sell lift tickets than books. People feel guilty about books they don’t read. To buy a book and let it sit unread on the shelf brings some people great angst. I half joke and tell them they don’t have to read it, they just have to buy it. I talk about remainders until I notice their eyes glass over.

Yesterday I skied powder at Crystal. It was a surprising day–one where the “Real Feel”™ of the 3 inches of reported new snow was more like 10 inches. I hiked the King and found untouched snow in Silver Basin. After my first turn in, I realized I wasn’t smiling. I was thinking about how much time I had before I needed to be somewhere else.

I stopped.

Someone was skiing the chute to my left, and I caught glimpses of his blue jacket and silver helmet. The sun poked through the clouds and glistened on the trees to my right. I could hear only the wind and the soft beating of my heart. My blood softened a little, and I let myself melt a little into my surroundings.

I pushed on. This time I smiled big, letting the cold air freeze my teeth. I made wide arcs across the chute, certain the rocky ribs were covered in snow, and picked up speed. At the bottom another skier waited in the trees and I swooped past him, smiling and breathing loudly, taking large gulps of the snowy air.

As I skated out the long cat track, I kept on smiling. I noticed the way my legs pushed and my triceps worked and took joy in the movement of my body. I reminded myself that someday I would no longer be able to do this. Our best moments, like all moments, are temporary.

It’s no good trying to hide your joy. Life changes in an instant. This moment right here might be your last chance for joy. I say revel in it.

What do you say?

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31 responses »

  1. Personally, I’m thrilled you wrote your book. I’ve been meaning to tell you that my dad LOVED The Next 15 Minutes. It’s all he talks about when we go down to the desert to visit. You bring your story to life, so that the reader is inside your head, feeling your emotions and experiencing your fears and exhilaration.

    Yep…real glad you pubbed your book.

  2. I could not agree more. I’m trying to remember to be in each moment fully, as you so eloquently write about. Like yesterday skiing @ Alpental, best snow I’ve ever skied there. However, I keep on reliving those moments of pure joy from yesterday, but right in front of my is work I need to do. Striving to be in the moment, regardless of whether it’s pleasurable or necessary. sigh. BTW Bhutan essay in progress.

  3. Many of my friends can no longer ski due to the expense of the experience. when on snow, their joy is equal to mine, but their opportunities are few and far between. Blessed to have Snowsports in my life thanks to it being part of my profession, offers unlimited chances to smile broadly and take comfort. I do not share those moments with friends who work relentlessly just to make ends meet. Sharing my joy with them only serves to identify what they don’t have, so I’ve adopted the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. Sharing my visits to various ski venue and the unbridled happiness it brings is not part of my return home ritual. Very few of my friends have the freedom and means to enjoy slope time, so providing accounts of my experiences tend to trigger a level of resentment and disappointment, so I keep my mouth shut rather than broadcast euphoria. Fellow ski patrollers and well healed snow enthusiasts can relate to a sharing of happiness on the snow…the working stiff can not, and it seems the less shared in those circles the better.

  4. Keep sharing Kim. Love to hear the stories, see the two of you together. When we are happy with ourselves, we like to see happiness in others.

  5. I always enjoy snowboarding regardless of conditions and hope to be able to do it until I’m at least 100 years old which is now possible with the gondola at Crystal.If everybody would smile more the world would be a better place, so I say Joy to the World and happy turns to all regardless of conditions.

  6. I’m all about sharing the joy–I can only hope that sharing my joys inspire others to actually reach out and grab their own joy rather than waiting for “the perfect time.”

  7. Keep sharing your experiences and challenges. Your writing is real and your positive attitude is infectious. Don’t downplay positive experiences by emphasizing negatives; there’s a fine line between that and the “humble brag”.

    Life has its ups and downs. Its the ups that make all the difference. I say share them!

  8. You’re right on, as usual – your having a fine time can be really hard on people who don’t, and they both do and don’t want to hear about it, and nothing you can say will make them believe there’s any travail or work in what you do. Hah, just try to tell ’em about the 15-hour days at the computer…

  9. Your blog reminded me of a little song probably everyone learned at one point or another in their pre-school years. “This little light of mine, I am gonna let it shine” Regardless of the light or joy, sharing what you do that makes you happy is important. Be it skiing fresh pow on a blue bird day or taking a walk in the rain–be joyful and tell a friend. Thanks for the reminder and for sharing your experience–wish I could have been there.

  10. Kim I really liked this blog entry. There is so much to appreciate in life especially when blessed with being able to enjoy a day of powder and cool clean air in the mountains. I say share the joy, take it all in, revel in it and remind yourself to enjoy it while you can. Sometimes we have to force ourselves into the correct frame of mind or like you did, stop and reset. I was hiking the King on Sunday and my mind was already fast forwarding to Monday until the guy ahead of me turned around and asked if I wanted to pass him. Kind of woke me up from my trance and got me back to the present where I looked around a took in the gorgeous views and feeling freedom and physical strength. I read this blog after reading your post on the the Southback (ski patrol blog) and was going to call you out for skiing without a partner in SE trees this weekend(my boyfriend was a the bottom in the trees as you flew by). Instead I decided not to be a kill joy and just pose the question to you… what is your rationale when preaching one thing and practicing another. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing, just wondering what went into your decision making on that particular run? Did you think about it and decide the trees were safe enough, there were 2 patrol at top, you had a radio, the tree wells not that deep, etc? I am just trying to put myself in that scenario, if I was skiing the King alone, would I alert someone I was solo or stay out in the open, or jump into untracked trees. Fine line isn’t it? Take it in, live life, sometimes throw caution to the wind? Sometimes the joy factor can go up when there’s just a little more risk involved, I know that is true for me. Maybe not for most folks but I would bet that’s why people hike the King, yes? Sorry to start my comment on one note and end on another. Just had that rattling around in my head and not sure which blog to comment on or how to broach the subject for fear of just being nit picky. Figured I’d through it out there anyhow.

    • Mary,

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. It is a fine line indeed. I talked to the patrollers at the top and others knew I was headed there. But I like to ski alone. No question about it. It’s some of the only time I get for myself. I recently wrote a post about Southback over at the patrol blog. Southback isn’t true backcountry, and I wouldn’t have skied an untracked chute in Morse Creek alone. But I knew something of the avalanche hazard that day. And it was pretty nil. Having said that, after I passed your husband I found myself in some thick trees and cursed myself for skiing them alone. Those tree wells looked pretty big.

  11. Hey Kimmer, great post and I want to share the Stoke, My Brother and his son Bill, yes as in Bill Brosseau are flying out to ski Crystal with Peter and I this weekend, Bill is flying in Fri night (gets in at 9PM) Ski Sat, stop by the Elk and then Bill gets back on the plane back to DC that night. All for one day at Crystal. He is so jazzed to be out in the NW, both he and his dad (brother Howard) ski Okemo in VT.
    Come on Crystal give these East Coast Boys some of that Blower.
    We will watch “Sinners” Friday night.

    Still looking for that one perfect turn!!!
    Bill

  12. I think all the comments have covered everything I wanted to say. I will say this…I loved and needed this post today.
    I need to remember joy is in the little things. The big too. But, it’s the little things that often bring me the greatest joy.

  13. Couldn’t agree more!!! Leaving for our second trip to Alta/Snowbird in 2 months (from Virginia) and can’t wait!!! It is so true how Life can change in an instant!!! Whether it is skiing, hiking, biking etc. find something to be joyous about and never hide that joy!!

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