I’m probably the only person that is enjoying the polar vortex.
After withstanding a two year barrage of car repairs, last minute airfare and an inconvenient coffee spill that turned my MacBook Pro into the sexiest aluminum paperweight on the block, I was finally able to get myself a new snowboard this winter.
It’s bright yellow and neon green; shiny and fast – a completely impractical purchase for a practical 27 year old – and I love it. Well, as much as one can love a thing. My rekindled fondness for shredding gnar coupled with long ski lift rides has given me time to reflect. Normally, I’d tie to my thoughts back to Marketing or working at a start-up, but I think those connections are obvious. I’ll leave the interpretation to you:
1. There’s value in keeping an edge. The analogy here is simple. If you ride a mountain with your board flat, the littlest bump can be a disaster. If you ride with too much control, the ride will be slow and boring. Only when you ride the delicate edge between sane and crazy can you balance control and speed for the best ride possible.
2. Sometimes you need to step backwards to move forward. This season, I’ve dedicated myself to riding ‘switch’. Basically, riding backwards. Muscle memory is flipped, balance is off and I’ve been forced to learn everything all over again.
Being out of my comfort zone, even with something familiar, allowed me to appreciate the challenge (and pain) of learning. I have become a better teacher AND have picked up a few things that make my ‘regular’ riding even better.
3. The path less traveled isn’t always harder, it’s just harder to see. This is cliché, but hear me out. On a recent trip, we were lucky enough to have a foot of fresh snow with an additional three inches of accumulation throughout the day. As people rode the mountain, distinct lines or paths started to form.
By the end of the day, skiers and snowboarders alike were eating snow (bro talk for falling hard) because the lines were so deep and tough to navigate – a tumble here and a bruise there, all because people saw a predetermined path and followed it.
Meanwhile, there was 15 inches of fresh snow to be found 40 yards to either side. They looked difficult, but those runs were softer, clearer, safer and, as a result, much more fun. All it took was a little bravery and independent thinking to tap into the best conditions I have experienced since I started boarding in 1999.
Every person perceives this speed differently. A beginner feels out of control as everyone around passes in a speedy blur. An advanced rider is able to slow time, carefully calculating turns milliseconds in advance.
Practice, hard work and time allow us slow our surroundings and make these precise, quick decisions… but that doesn’t mean the ride isn’t any less thrilling for the newbies.
That’s about all I got. Next time you’re doing something you love, I encourage you to take some time to reflect on what it means in a greater context. At the very least it could give you an excuse to write about snowboarding at work. I love my job.
Added bonus: Here’s my favorite snowboarding clip of all time. Jump to 1:40 if you want to get to the meat of the video.