Snowboarding Could Help Save the World: A love letter to the practice
Sometimes I think that if everyone snowboarded there would be more peace in the world.
Snowboarding started in front of my junior high school, piling gear and noisy pants on a bus headed to Brighton Ski Resort. An instructor in a big, dorky helmet taught me how to give life to the movements that would possess so many of my thoughts and days for years to come. Up there in those mountains I got my wings. I found what I looked for every time I rode my bike down big hills or jumped off my roof as a kid. I found a home, a battlefield, a playground for my bouncing knees and daydreaming eyes.
In the 10th grade all I could think about was how I was going to get sponsored and go pro, hucking huge spins all over the world on a piece of wood and plastic strapped to my feet. Well, life happens and priorities change and knees are knees. But beyond those adolescent desires, snowboarding has become to mean much more than excitement. It has brought me some of the most cherished moments of my life.
I have had runs that I will never forgot, perfect moments of connection with my mind, my movements, my equipment and the mountain. An exchange of pressures and weight against the snow, a bargain with the elements where I feel I always got the better end of the deal. The reward of the conversation between myself and the mountain through the language of snowboarding has been more enriching and longer lasting than I ever imagined. I believe these moments have brought substance to my soul, light to my bones.
My love letter here wouldn’t be complete without talking about the mountains. Snowboarding has allowed me to run my fingers through their hair and sneak out with them late at night. Every time I’m there I’m grateful. Makes me want to pray, “God thank you for your cathedrals of rock and ice.” I’m in awe of them. Their extraordinary violence frozen by my puny mortality. I love them. Yeah let’s be simple now. I love them.
But better than all that, I have the jokes, the countless conversations, the laughs, the music, the singing, the shoveling, the building, the exploring, the smashed PB&Js, the gas money, the tips, the encouragement, the hugs, the hands, the memories, man, the memories. This, more than anything. Nothing matters more to me now than this. I’m shy (much more then than now). And snowboarding was and is one way I know how to spend time with people, time I (we all) needed, need, will need. An attractive old man once said, "love is spelled t-i-m-e," and as cheesy as that sounds, it’s true. The time spent snowboarding with friends and family helped me love them, helped me feel loved. Makes me weepy just thinking about it.
These perfect moments, these happy moments of privilege have caused me to reflect on my luck and ask myself, “is it ok that I’m doing this while young slaves get trafficked to dark rooms around the world? While heads are removed in front of cameras in deserts far away in the name of God? While people in my own city go hungry?” My answer is this: To not snowboard would be in a way giving in to the notion that our world is a terrible place and always will be. I think that the point of the sacrifices of my grandmothers and grandfathers was to create a world where such privilege is a possibility, where the mountains are not used to hide or harbor killers but are blessings to the families they surround. The privileges of snowboarding do not cause me to ignore the horrors of the world but have shed a clear light on my abundance and thus my responsibility to give and share.
Snowboarding has given me so much more than I can ever give to it. When I come to the mountain with my friends, family, and my best efforts, the response is love and happiness and the satisfaction of being granted a small piece of the power of the mountain. The mountain has been generous to me and I believe when you interact with a generous power, you feel loved, you feel blessed, you feel lucky in such a way that you want to turn around and help others feel that way too.
If more people felt that way in their lives, I believe we would be kinder and more encouraging to each other, we would be more connected to one another, more aware of the beauty the earth grants us and more proud of our abilities and ourselves. And when more people feel that way about life, themselves, and the environment, I believe they will be more likely to put away their dangerous desires and deny the demons damning our world and maybe invite their neighbors over for dinner. I believe they will be more likely to laugh, more likely to say thank you to strangers and more likely to breath deep and fall in love with our world and its people.
So can snowboarding help save the world? Well, it certainly has helped save me.
What kind of hobbies or pastimes do you think have helped you be better and happier? I would love to hear about them in the comments. Thanks!