I don’t know why heavy impacts don’t make me stop doing what I do, but they don’t.
So why do I continue doing what I do? And, is it even about that?
Riding through powdery forests and down pillow lines of unknown rock and undergrowth is ideal. It’s not a thrill-seeking thing, nor is it a death wish. It’s about the substance I’m floating through and nothing else.
Whether I’m on skis or a board, not knowing what lies below is part of why we go out there. You know it’s mainly some sort of liquid, but the earth’s natural contours poke through with bumps and drops, and saplings and stumps.
Sometimes an edge catches and we’re thrown. And sometimes you slam into a mound of snow that definitely wasn’t there when you saw it 2 seconds before airing out over that tree with the seemingly small yet generous cliff below.
Riding after a foot and a half of snowfall changes how much speed you carry to hit the downslope… Apparently I needed this lesson again.
Now in retrospect, I managed to yell “send it”, so that makes up for the lack of speed, right? Note: it did not. The trauma is always real.
“It’s not dumb. It’s just part of the challenge”
We have a similar feeling in surfing—not knowing what truly lurks beneath us—and I don’t mean your nightmares of Jaws, though fish are always a consideration.
Sometimes a rock pokes through the lineup where you hadn’t seen it before. Sometimes that rock is large driftwood that has up-ended in the sand permanently, always waiting for the day you forget to watch for it at low tide.
There are inherent risks involved with “extreme sports”, and while some think that participating may make them look “cooler” (yes, I’ve been asked if that’s why I surf), that’s not really where I’m going with this.
but… it definitely makes you cooler
There are many things that riding through the two forms of liquid is not to me, and one very real thing that it is. One very real reason that I get churned up by the ocean and spat back out, and why I narrowly (and sometimes unknowingly) avoid cliffs, dodge trees, and tread carefully in avalanche country: a connection.
It’s a connection to something far greater that we live amongst. And it’s not the only way of finding that feeling, but that’s what it is to me. It’s feeling aware, it’s feeling the rhythm of the earth, it’s taking into account the nature that we so obliviously ignore as we rush around the rest of our time trying to “get places”.
I get an innate, instinctual feeling from floating through this part-solid, part-liquid material that ebbs and flows with the contours of nature. It’s something only the wild could give me. And there’s always a reckoning, as the picture in front of me becomes something it could never have been without somehow being much more powerful than I. Without the reality of a force much more powerful than us…
That is why I do it. It’s not dumb. And it’s not about risking everything every time. It’s overwhelmingly not about that.
It’s just part of the challenge of finding yourself in this vast world. It’s part of the challenge of finding the connection to the soul.
The risk isn’t why. It’s just part of it.
However you choose to do it, ride the floaty substance—with what may be unknown beneath it—and find what makes you do it.