It’s always a question. You’re a little kid and people say, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This is a drastically irresponsible. What does a kid know about being grown up? I think I even said, “I don’t know,” a time or two. I don’t know if I ever had an answer to that question. And why should anyone “be” something? Maybe the kid just wants to go skiing…
A friend of mine has been having a hard time at his job. I told him to write down a list of stuff he liked about his job and stuff he didn’t like. He thought I meant pros and cons. I didn’t mean pros and cons at all. A “pro” can be something we don’t even like but we have the idea it’s beneficial to us in some way — like he had a private office which sounds good and he called it a “pro” but he didn’t like it. It took me a long time to figure out the difference myself, and it was impossible for me to illuminate it for him.
The thing is, now I know.
The happiest I have ever been in my entire life was on skis. I was not a very good skier and not very clear about my skiing goals or direction other than down the hill, or across the mountain, depending, but I loved it.
So now I’m 65 and arthritic and stuff. I have to use a famous ski technique just to get down a hill; I side-step. I can’t blame skiing for my arthritis because the knee I hurt skiing isn’t that bad, and the leg it bends is still mostly straight. It’s the OTHER one. So every other day, I ride an Airdyne, a total-body-workout kind of stationary bike made by Schwinn. It drastically improved my ability to walk so I keep at it. Recently, I discovered beautiful videos of bike rides in Europe that I have been watching while I ride. They’r nice, but kind of tranquil, now somewhat boring. I imagine my “skill level” on the Airdyne has surpassed them.
Sunday I put in a DVD I bought a long time ago in a set of “Classic Ski Films.” It’s “The Last of the Ski Bums,” made in 1969. I’d seen it once and loved it. In it the main character and his pals bum around the Alps and ski. The storyline is cute and funny, the skiing is beautiful, the mountains more beautiful, the underlying philosophy is harmonious with mine. As I watched the first half I realized that I would really like to be a ski bum.
“It’s kind of late, Martha,” I said. “All that’s left for you is ‘stationary bike bum.’ I think you’re doing that pretty well, in spite of the inherent stability of your lifestyle.”
“Yeah, but maybe next time?”
“You mean your next life?”
“Yeah, my next life. Riding the Airdyne is great for developing quads, glutes and even calf muscles.”
Now I’m training for my next life in which I will be a ski-bum, maybe even a pro skier for a while so someone else pays me to travel. I’m already training, and maybe the head-start will help. I hope I remember the intrinsic futility of striving for success on my next pass and can jump right into my new life of chasing powder around the world.