Over time we become jaded: the same old activities only continue to excite us if we make an effort to view them with a fresh eye. This is hard, since by nature we seem to be sensitive to changing stimulation but not constant stimulation. Just like in the oh-so-overplayed Passenger song Let Her Go:
“Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home
Only know you love her when you let her go”
That’s one good reason to introduce your friends to a new activity – they will hopefully be excited and super stoked from something that you have already started taking for granted, and remind you how wonderful it actually is. I still remember vividly how when my dad was visiting a few springs ago and we took him snowshoeing to Joffre Lakes, and he was absolutely amazed at how when one pees in the snow, the pee melts a deep hole and disappears. The thing is, stuff like this IS amazing, we just get used to it and then slowly begin to view it as usual and eventually ignore it.
Why does this happen? I recently read the book the “Power of Habit“, where it is explained how habits are an energy conservation mechanism for the brain. It costs a lot of energy to be alert to every little thing, all of the time, so we fall into rehearsed routines that save us that effort. But there’s a price… we lose a sense of wonder at the amazing world that we live in. As the pace of our world becomes faster, we have even less time to enjoy the “little” things.
On that note, when some super stoked friends wanted to join me on a trip, and my brother was visiting too, it seemed like a perfect occasion to both continue their introduction to backcountry skiing, and rekindle the fire of wonder at the snowy icy world that the mountains transform into in the winter.
I actually try to avoid Red Heather in winter as much as possible, since the road tends to be icy and very dangerous, and I’ve often seen multiple cars in a ditch. This time the road was thankfully almost bare and an easy drive up to the parking lot. As happens often, the car next to us happened to contain three friends from the Varsity Outdoor Club – it’s a deceptively small community of outdoor enthusiasts.
On the way up it became apparent that Catia’s boots were a very bad fit – her shins were getting bruised and she was developing some blisters. We took our time and finally made it up into the alpine and excellent views of the Tantalus Range and Mt. Atwell. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, life was good.
The ski down the trail itself is often the most fun part of the day: the trail gets packed by the masses, so it’s a fast and exhilarating ski down. Back at the cars, the sun was magically filtering through the trees: magic!
The ultimate in introducing someone to a new activity is having a child. Absolutely everything is new to them, including completely mundane things that we have long learned to take for granted such as sand, rain, chocolate and even walking. At least, this is the theory, we’re about to find out how this works out in a few months, wish us luck.