Flipping through Hemispheres magazine, I came across an article entitled, “Wish You Weren’t Here” about how healthy couples vacation separately. The luck! My decision to go on an expensive, solo trip validated by a few paragraphs in a travel mag.
It was officially O.K. for me to leave my family and work for a week-long vacation and love every moment.
I had been anticipating this trip long before boarding the plane. The excursion had been booked more than a year in advance, a crew of eight skiers and boarders solidified with our first payment to a backcountry outfit near the cute little town of Nelson, B.C. I was nervous and exited for some backcountry riding in deep powder accessed only by SnoCat, with the hope of carving fresh tracks on every run.
When I look back, my 20s were filled with newness and self-imposed challenges. As I age, new experiences happen less often. And I miss that feeling of not knowing what to expect. This trip would be a venture into unknown territory. Here are a few things I did for the first time:
1. Ride in a helicopter. Two, actually—one up, one down. I wish there had been more.
2. Learn how to use an avalanche beacon. Pretty basic stuff, but important!
3. Snowboard via SnoCat. No lifts, no crowds. Just a burly SnoCat depositing us at the top of a mountain and picking smiling skiiers and boarders up at the bottom. All day long.
4. Stay in a lodge with 35 other guests, all male. This can be a little stinky, but overall pretty great.
I also came to understand that pursuing one’s passion is important and vital to human happiness. Well, for me it is.
I love snowboarding. It’s pure bliss, floating on the smooth sparkly surface of fresh snow. Loving something doesn’t mean being the best at it. It means experiencing joy when partaking in said favorite activity. I’m totally not the best snowboarder out there *obviously*. Some of the best moments on the mountain were watching other people challenge themselves and try something they weren’t sure they could do. It’s fun. And we all need more fun.
The best part about really loving something is being completely in the moment with it. My mind is a wanderer. All day I think about client deadlines, grocery lists, appointments. I consider the next project. Seldom do I experience something fully and lose myself in the task. It happens with my job sometimes. Going down the rabbit hole of graphic design and coming out hours later with a tangible product to look at can be very satisfying. (Thank goodness for calendar apps with alerts!) Exercise is that way, too—staying focused on the right now. But snowboarding… that’s the one.
The people I admire the most all have something in their lives that they really love to do for themselves. My friends are photographers, fly fishers, horse riders and poets. They are dedicated to and rewarded by their crafts. This is not to say that these folks are not also devoted spouses, parents or workers. Having a passion is not the same as being selfish. Taking time for yourself to do something you enjoy routes happiness back to others. It’s healthy and good. Whatever your passion—be it running, wrenching on cars or thrifting—it doesn’t matter. Embrace it. Do it.
Winter is winding down. There are no more snowboard trips planned this season, solo or otherwise. If it continues to snow in the northeast I may be able to squeak in one more day at the mountain. But I’ll probably have to wait ’til next year to ride the fluffy stuff.
Until then, I’ll be daydreaming about surfing down a white mountain.
And helicopter rides.
Here are some images of my trip. Photos by Nick Diamond (and me).