This past weekend I got back on skis after a five year hiatus.  A perfect storm of circumstances compelled me to dig out the gear and join my family on the slopes at a nearby mountain.  The boys really wanted to go, but Noah needed to be back in the early afternoon for a play rehearsal.  Chase had hoped to stay a little longer, so I offered to spend the morning with them and be the first one out of dodge right after lunch.  In the past, I have happily relegated myself to the lodge with my laptop and grand ambitions of getting some writing or work done.  But on Sunday, I was still recovering from an intense week and couldn’t envision getting a lick of anything accomplished amidst the throngs of skiers and snowboarders clomping by me and the constant chill of the open door.  And I was still feeling inspired by the bloggers over at 28 Days of Play where I posted on Wednesday about engaging with my kids.  Yes.  I would join them.

In setting my intentions, I did forget a small but significant fact:  I don’t like to ski.  Never did.   Oh, I have tried to be one of those people who can’t wait to hit the slopes, whose jackets are proudly adorned with lift tickets, who can talk about trails like neighborhood streets (Did you try Black Bear last week?  It was epic.).  And I am a decent skier, which should make it more enjoyable, but it doesn’t.  Sometimes I wonder what if EVERYONE just SAYS they like to ski because it’s the cool thing to do, but in reality, no one does.  What if the Emperor has no bindings???  An interesting hypothesis, but still not an answer to why I suddenly decided to ski again.

Faced with this quandary, I sought counsel from a trusted source:  I posted on Facebook.

There were a few folks who suggested a rationale for my bravado.  For the love of … my boys (somewhat), life (nice, but less likely), and insanity (probable).  But the winning answer came from my sister-in-law who basically nailed it when she suggested “après-ski.”

Oh, how I do love “après-ski.”  I love it far better than “avant-ski” with all the layering, renting, equipment testing, wrinkle fixing, buckling, zipping, lugging and paying.  And, truth be told, I love it better than “pendant-ski” with all the chattering, wind burn, near death wipe outs, lift lines and numb extremities.  The faster I can get to the après-ski – with a tasty bowl of chili, a warm shower, my most comfy-iest sweats, and a little nap in front of the fire – the better.

The only problem is to really experience “après-ski” – one has to ….uh… ski.  Because while all the accouterments that come with the après-ski are lovely any time of the year, the suffering immediately prior is pretty much a prerequisite.  When you have been physically challenged, the comfort of doing the opposite is exponentially greater.  I don’t particularly love chili on a random Tuesday – but après-ski it is a gourmet sensation.

I figure there aren’t very many activities in life that you do solely so you can stop and enjoy NOT doing them.  But perhaps there are a few.

I thought about the people who lost power over the last several weeks and the joy they felt when it finally went back on.  Or the parents who had to forsake work and other tasks to care for children whose schools were cancelled and their relief when classes resumed.  Or those who had flights cancelled and travel plans ruined and how they will feel when they finally get to take that vacation.  Grateful, I’m sure.

Maybe subconsciously I needed a little reminder this winter that behind the cold and ice and cancelled plans and screwed up schedules is our après-ski – a little warmth, and normalcy.  And perhaps this year, it will be especially lovely, because of all the suffering that came before it. Involuntary, I know.  But it still counts.

I survived on Sunday – and we will survive this winter.  I think we are on last run friends, with some sunshine just around the bend.  Hang in there!

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