January 23, 2005 and it's the first real snow of the season.
Mary and I walked around the quiet white of town, finding friends along the way and marveled in the serenity enveloping us.
I knew city folk were drawn toward skiing but I never knew why until this morning. At first I figured it was an activity to get out of the city during the worst time of the year. An excuse, a reason in the guise of doing something. City folks seem obsessed to "do something" and have some sort of "activity" to prevent them from doing nothing. To many people in the confines of the metropolis, doing nothing is totally unthinkable. They work on vacation and you can see these cell phone using, laptop toting, fully accessorized, Gore-tex, thinsulated clones on every ski slope cramming in all the activities they can fit into their tiny vacation window before heading back to the city and the endless monotonous stress of cosmopolitan life.
Is it a back to nature thing? Is it the wide open expanse of the ski slopes simulating a winter golf course? And why skiing? Why not snow shoeing, cross country skiing or curling? What is this allure of downhill skiing that draws the city vacationer to its artificially made snowy slopes with ridiculously high lift ticket prices, specialized footwear, indoor shopping and hot tubs full of city people looking for another "activity"?
Obviously, it's not the people they want to get away from, since the slopes are filled with urbanites.
Just what are these downhill, snow seekers looking for?
Today the thought came to me that maybe the reason is the muffled solitarity.
With constant, non-stop audio and visual input filling our minds with the full spectrum, neon-strobed, action filled commercial existence of urban life, most metropolitans suffer from sensory overload. The stark absence of color and the muffled quiet from fresh powder snow closely resembles sensory deprivation. Include warm clothing and now all the senses have restricted input. The cold air invigorates us to do something physical to keep warm but at the same time calms the mind. Like it or not, we become more internalized under these conditions and we get to communicate with our dear, life-long companion... Ourselves.
As humans, it's a scary thing to be alone. We want the company of our own kind to share in this experience so we created an industry to take us to the top of the mountain and just so we don't overtax our urban bodies, we invented the ski lift and a lift ticket to go with it. Decked out in Gor-tex and thinsulate in a vast array of electric colors, the height of urban survival fashion, metropolitans are now in full tilt boogie Zen mode in a choreography of downhill speed to the hot tubs and fireplaces of upper crust rural living.
But all that "activity" isn't necessary. The quiet, nervine essence of the fresh powder snow, alone, is enough to induce a meditative alpha state. Your higher self knows this. Listen to it once in awhile.