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Busting Free and into Community

Instant Community; ski/ board  old/ young=mtn high
Racing down the ski hill, wind in my face, and muscle memory kicks in.  I suddenly realized that the ski run is like my life.  Constant corrections, unconscious corrections, skillful corrections that fire like cylinders in a car.  Up down, left right, forward back.  And before I know it, I am at the bottom of the hill. Hardly a conscious thought occurred, the ride was a thrill and I got to where I wanted.  Trust is a slippery thing.  I have a high degree of trust in my skiing ability.  Even at this age I am confident going down this easy hill.  I used to get bored with this kind of mountain, no challenge.  Finding those nooks and crannies of trust embedded in our bodies and souls can point in the direction of a fulfilling day.   

That day on the ski hill started because I was stuck.  Stuck like a cat chasing its tail.  Going around and around in circles with less and less energy.   Getting less and less done.  Finally, I tired of my excuses and jumped in the car and got on the freeway.   Breaking free of the routine place and obligations cracked the egg.  Rolling at 70 mph, the confusion of too many options, too many unfinished projects, and too much ‘been there done that’ evaporated.  One of my favorite songs came on and upon hearing the chorus to One Love sung in Zulu heart and the tears flowed.  Bottled up emotions were released.   I knew I was in that juicy place where soul lives.  Soulful feeling and truth were leaking out in the familiar words. .  Harmonious voices singing in a rainbow of languages speaks to one of my core values: Community. 

On the ski hill I joined the tribe of skiers and boarders.  90% of the crowd was boarders and approximately one third of my age.  But I was in my community of mountain lovers who enjoy the thrill of racing down a snowy mountain.  Leaning into that long entrenched body memory of carving ski turns on the snow was satisfying even though not novel.  It was satisfying to be in the familiar experience with the more relaxed attitude of maturity.  The lesson was to appreciate what you have now and not hold onto an old model that is out of date.  No longer interested in pushing myself to the limits of my ability and even so the knees started to give out in a few hours.  I had to relax and find the groove of easy sliding down the mountain and trusting the body to know what to do.   Hitting that inner place was liberating.  I realized that I don’t have to try to do what I did years ago.  Call it creative aging.   I was part of that community on the ski hill.  

Riding the chair lift with a couple boarders and they offered me a swig of their beer.  I accepted and he asked, “How is your day?”  I said, ”Great but my knees are starting to give out.”  He responded, “Yeah me too.” Then he told me his age, 47, and I told him I was 61, he practically fell out of the chair in shock.  We bonded momentarily as fellow mountain sliders with aching knees.  There is a saying I hear frequently these days; ‘You are only as old as you feel.’   That is often meant to encourage older people to keep a youthful attitude.  OK, and sometimes you can think young the body aches and hurts and feels old.  But that is not bad.   There can be wisdom in aging, if we can see it.  Wisdom comes from knowledge and experience intelligently applied.  Wisdom provides fuel to get through rough patches in the aging Boomer.  Days when your body is stiff in the wrong places, days when your knees ache, those are the days when the wise, older person applies self awareness and experience  and enjoy carving turns on the slope, not jumping fifty feet off the cornice. 

After connecting with the mountain and its denizens, I stopped for a cup of coffee at the local grind in the village.  Spying a book rack that said ‘support your local artists,’ I opened a poetry book written by a retired fire captain and felt an instant kinship.  Community takes many forms from the Zulu chorus to the achy, knee skiers to the village poet.  You have to get out of the narrowing life that often comes with aging.  Next time you break out, breathe in, and then give yourself a pat on the back.  You’re out living a vital, vibrant, and passionate life.  Not a young life, not necessarily a youthful life but a life that is rift with vitality, value, and virtue.


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