Tag Archives: Dreams

When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Mountain Man

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This is too awesome not to share. In case you can’t read my nephew’s handwriting, here’s the gist of it: “When I grow up I want to be a mountain man who runs a mountain area, like my uncle John Curcher (sic)! And my aunt Kimmy Curcher!” “The clothes I would wear would be nice clothes” (as in Patagonia and Outdoor Research, no doubt). “The tools I would use would be pencils” (because nothing at a ski area is ever done in permanent ink).

ski_area_operator

“Be careful you dang teenagers!”

But the very best part is the drawing. Notice the snowboarder dropping from the helicopter, screaming “Yahoo!” And the others saying, “Awesome!” “Super!” and “Zowee Mama!!!” Got to love the enthusiasm there.

But the best part is what I can only assume is the ski patroller’s (my) voice from the helicopter yelling, “Be careful you dang teenagers!”

When I first examined his artwork, I assumed he was depicting John and I riding down the mountain, and I thought, “Well at the end of the day, at least my nephew gets me.” But upon closer examination, I realize someone has to be the killjoy, warning the teenagers to be careful. After all, any good story has a protagonist, an antagonist and a very awesome setting. Also, I can’t help but notice the great care he took in drawing the helicopter. A mind made for machines is a mind made for mountain operations.

Bravo Jack.

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What makes some people’s dreams come true?

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Coming off a successful weekend at the PNWA Writer’s Conference, where I signed my book for people who actually paid money to read it, it struck me that a dream I’ve kindled in my heart for years has finally come true. I’m an author.

Looking around the conference I saw others with big dreams. You know the look: the fluttering hand at one’s breast, the rapid speech, the flush of possibility aflame in one’s cheeks.

Perhaps that’s why I love to ski. Gazing at a mountain, something bigger than my fears, I dream of skiing it, arcing across the steep slopes, gliding through the powdery bowls to feel my heart knock at my ribs, suddenly weighty with potential. Our ordinary days have a way of chiseling down our dreams, knocking off chunks of the granite vision, revealing, perhaps not the masterpiece we knew was hidden inside but instead just ordinary rock—crumbling and dusty.

The mundane work of the day to day—getting words on a page, driving to work in the rain, when we know it’s snowy somewhere in the mountains, lacks meaning when put up against the big moments. We set aside dreams for the practical, chip away at the masterpiece until it no longer stands quite so tall.

Maybe that’s why we root for the underdog. Our souls climb a little higher when Rocky knocks out Apollo Creed to become the heavyweight champion. We know, deep down, that if he can do it, maybe we can too.

My new writer friends clamored around my table at the author signing last night, thrusting their new copy of my book in front of me to sign. They were rooting for me.

What makes some people’s dreams come true?

Is it luck? Hard work? Something else entirely?

I’m not entirely sure, but I suspect it has to do with risk. Only when we put ourselves out there, conjuring dreams too big to hold, risk exposure and failure and utter ruin, that we even have a chance. Squirrelling away our potential like a bank account saves nothing. Only by exposing our granite dreams to the elements, maybe chucking away the shelter of the staid, can the true masterpiece emerge.

It would have been easier not to write this book. I could have clutched John’s recovery to my breast, clutched it so tight that no one could pry it loose. I didn’t have to fray our lives into separate strands to be followed and teased out of the tapestry, doing the hard work of making sense out of pain and struggle. But I did. I could have written this book for myself—kept it within the pages of my journal, just ramblings and musings of a dreamer. Instead I have exposed it to the world, unclasped my hands to release it.

Dreams can be frightening, unwieldy beasts, and it’s no wonder so few ever realize them. But I know the feeling of triumph. I learned it on the slopes, when the impossible suddenly becomes possible, when my skis snake through in just the right sequence of turns to make me feel like I’m flying. I know, now too, the weight of my words, and how light they suddenly feel, released to the sky.