Sun Peaks: A Paradigm Shift

March 23rd, 2008

The offer hung between us since my return: a long weekend skiing up in Canada with friends, a free stay in a townhouse, and accessible back country so I didn’t have to pay for lift tickets (for which I don’t have the money). Seemingly a no-brainer for many, but the biggest hurdle for me was the pressing feeling of having work to do. It wasn’t until the day before they left that I shrugged to myself: “why not?”

I drove up with Dan and Allison, two friends who’d been in Cambodia with me, while Deb, Chad, and Mileva came up in a separate car. I still took the opportunity to do five moderately productive hours of work in the car. (at right: chad goes for a run)

I’ll spare you the details and simply say it had its relaxing moments and the back country was beautiful. While we watched snow mobiles high marking and even saw a tow-in ski jump, it was pretty calm out there.

My fitness was lacking, but the snow was forgiving knee-deep powder on the lee slopes. Overnight it became wind-loaded so on the second day–on slopes we’d already skied–Chad set off two slab avalanches. They were fairly inconsequential, considering the depth of the slab (4-8 inches) and breadth of the fractures, but there were no cliffs or trees to be battered against. Still, it reminded us to respect the randomness of nature and–for me–the reminder that you’re here and then you’re not. Just like that.

Not everything went as planned, which was easy enough to roll with, but I noticed I stifled moments of unidentifiable anger while passing through the resort area. Watching people, listening to snippets of conversation, I was seized with judgment about the sheer excess built around lift-serve skiing. The back country was the counterbalance, the thing that helped me relax. (at left: self portrait in a frozen landscape)

However, I couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty and hypocritical having a townhouse to kick back in afterwards. But in an attempt to find balance, I found pleasure in the good meals we made, the company of friends, the cocktails in the hot tub.

It was the marked contrast to the previous months that struck me the most; the gentle silence of the snowy peaks, the ice-cold air that numbed my face, the pleasure of exercise while climbing the slopes, the laughter and discussion, the sweeping views of distant mountains. When you’re wound tight, relaxing is hard work. I’m not sure I was prepared to face that kind of exertion when I got home. It has kind of caught me off guard. (at right: chad and deb)

The only pictures I took were with Chad’s small point and shoot…something I would love to own one of these days. After I get that 8-core MacPro tower so I can process video, upgrade the laptop, the software, and trade-in my lovely 1D Mark II’s which weigh a ton. I’m looking for a sugar-person (to be politically correct), or that one killer job that enables me to make a much-needed hardware upgrade. Non-profit work isn’t….well…very profitable. Any suggestions out there?

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