The quote found me more than I found it, a soft punch in Chang-rae Lee’s “My Year Abroad.”
It stuck to my ribs, a proposition of object impermanence: that “every time you say goodbye to someone, you must always think that this may be the very last time you see them, that this image will be your last memory. It would be quite overwhelming, of course, to live your days like this, but on the other hand, a little exhilarating too, to have rooted in all this grief and impermanence. Your capacity for gratitude would be off the beaten track.
It has softened my soul, and is perhaps the antidote to the midwinter crisis – the grumpy, restless, muddy gray mood that hangs like low clouds around February’s neck. and early March. We confuse routine with monotony and subject our spiritual shoulders to slackness.
We are quite advanced in the season now that we have skied what we wanted to ski, most of the time. Probably, anyway. The bowl has been run through. Skinned tiehack. The rope fell on all good things. Some of you already have your 100 day Pins. I don’t, and as such, I found myself staring at the 30 days I still needed to scan my pass with a sense of resignation I didn’t think could afflict a sports enthusiast. winter like me.
The other seasons lack the longevity to fall asleep. The days are longer then, but they pass more quickly, because we all know that they will end sooner than we would like. Summer is an adventure, winter the kind of long-term relationship that sets out to keep sparking.
Perhaps you too have caught yourself staring five inches fresh and groaning at the crust below, or felt your fervor dulled by the work of so many T-to-Bs. I noticed that the powder day gondola line diminishes with each storm; what wrapped around the block for new tracks in December barely made it past the gates for five inches of white stuff the first weekend in March. The law of diminishing returns, maybe, or everyone just slept through Sunday, and I pick my anecdotes to prove my point.
I don’t think change itself is the answer to this apathy. Skiing a new line only works insofar as tomorrow you have to wake up and decide what other novelty will push back the inertia of another day.
But the idea of change could be an antidote, in the way the energy rushes when it looks like things might be different soon; we do things with more enthusiasm when we know they are coming to an end. The prospect of loss motivates us knowing that it will gut us when it occurs.
I tried to remember this this week, as a way to dredge up the mud and fall in love with skiing all over again: how the snow will soften, and the corn will harvest, and soon enough I’ll be thinking about the fall of the lines and lifting lines with a sort of starry fantasy that speaks to the idea that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.
In the meantime, I’ll spend a few extra moments gazing at the mountains from Sneaky’s and savoring the silence of Sunday solitude on Lud’s Lane. Some things never get old, even when everything else seems to.
Kaya Williams is a reporter for the Aspen Times and the Snowmass Sun who is determined to get that little 100-day pin this year, even if it means she may have to take a single spin on Nell to scan her pass . Email him at [email protected].