Snowboarding is life
“Don’t you get tired of just snowboarding all the time?”
This is a question a visiting friend asked once, out of genuine curiosity, while sitting atop Cornice Bowl at Mammoth Mountain in California, underneath a beautiful cloudless sky.
He wasn’t trying to be condescending. He was truly curious how a simple sport could keep so much of its appeal when I got to partake in it so often. I guess what made it extra special to him was its elusiveness.
But it was a funny question that threw me off guard because I had never thought of it as “just snowboarding.”
Well, maybe once upon a time I did – before I first moved to the mountains. When I quit my nine-to-fiver six years ago in the big city of San Diego, I thought it was simply to “go snowboarding.”
To go a lot, and on a day of the week that didn’t start with the letter “S.”
But looking back on the last six winters of my life (yes, one turned into six before I knew it), it has been about so much more than “just snowboarding.”
Riding down a mountain on a piece of wood and plastic while tipping from one metal edge to the other is just logistics – a means; a key to a lifestyle I will never regret experiencing.
It’s been about volunteering for organizations like Snowboard Outreach Society, which taught me, firsthand, how a sport can so easily seem a microcosm of life.
SOS’s main goal, simple yet incredibly effective, is to influence “at-risk youth” positively through snowboarding.
Basically, kids come ready to ride a mountain and leave a little more ready to ride the wave of “uncertainty” they may encounter while on this planet.
“How did you use “courage’ today in your snowboarding?” we would ask when discussing the word of the day (“integrity” and “discipline” are a few other examples).
“I used courage today to try and boardslide a rail,” one of my kids said shyly, and then with a smile: “And I did it.”
Snowboarding also has meant for me sharing a feeling of bonding amongst friends that I never quite felt in the days of city life – more than just yelling “Yeah!” when your friend stomps a trick he or she has fallen on 10 times already, more than just feeling the stoke of face shots that you both choked on all the way down the hill, more than just knowing you made the priceless decision in the trees when you went right instead of left, and your friend trusted you enough to follow you around that seemingly sketchy turn.
It’s about hanging out with people who share the same love of life, who are crazy enough to just go, and not sit around and wonder.
And most of all, snowboarding has really taught me about the person I thought I knew when I lived in the city but realized I didn’t know enough after I moved to the mountains – myself.
I learned the simple rewards of not letting fear ruin my fun on a board.
I learned the importance of loving the bruise on your butt as much as loving the trick you finally landed.
Yet now, after six winters of studying in the graduate school of life – that sounds so much more accurate than snowboard-bum school – I know there are other rewards and discoveries waiting for me outside a ski resort.
Yes, you read correctly, I’m hanging up my worn-out boots and heading back into the “real world” again this fall to teach high school English.
I know the payoff may not be in the form of the perfect untouched line in the trees that only instinct could sniff out, but from what I’ve learned from “just snowboarding,” if I’m happy, it will be a powder day.
The writer is a Frisco resident. She has snowboard-bummed at Mammoth, Steamboat and
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