NOTE : This is a guest post from my travel partner Ming, who’s fallen in love with skiing after the Whakapapa experience and has been pestering me everyday for our next skiing trip!
When was the last time you did something that’s totally out of character? Something that is completely different than what you have ever done?
I must say that for the past few years, my life has been the same clockwork day after day. I have become a zombie, the undead who walk through life unseeing, unfeeling and unaware. All I did was to go through the motion.
Oh, I was very good at what I do for a living, and I still am :). A little self-praise won’t hurt here. But, no matter how good you are at what you do, if its done the same day in and day out, it’s really easy to turn into a normal mundane obscure day to day job. That and add a lot hours at work without time to pause, to reflect and to feel, is fast lane to burnout.
And so, another thing that I noticed about myself is – I no longer dare to do things on an impulse. You know, the kind of things that is totally unpredictable and jaw-dropping. Some may say even dangerous, but hey… being too safe and secure can be damn boring… like a zombie. All they do is eat and eat and eat, and get shot at.
So out of impulse, I did something totally different and unpredictable. I booked a flight ticket to Auckland after 1 night of deliberation and research. Yes, yes, if I have to deliberate, it’s not impulsive right? It is to me. Considering I planned to spend quite a hefty amount for this unplanned un-budgeted trip. And what did I do in Auckland? How did the trip go?
I did something which I’ve never done before – I went skiing at Mount Ruapehu, 4 hours drive away from Auckland. To you westerners reading this, it may seem like a no big deal, skiing to Westerners is like badminton to Malaysian. It is a big deal, considering the nearest ski slope to my home country Malaysia is thousands of miles away across the Pacific Ocean and there are no artificial or indoor ski anywhere in the country.
From a complete novice, who has never seen a ski boots ever, I fell in love with skiing after the first hour. And that was after falling over at least a dozen times and knocking onto dozens of people who were really kind enough to pick me up. It is really a very very strenuous feat to get up with both your feet on the skis!
You know how much you love something when you return home raving about it to everyone you know, dreamt about it falling asleep and wake up at the right time every morning dreaming about putting on the ski boots and fitting up the ski plates. Haha.
What is it about skiing that so attracts me? I have asked myself that many times. I have never fallen in love with an activity especially sports. Not even swimming, which I’ve been doing since 6.
It’s the exhilaration I feel when I ski down the short slope without falling, feeling my whole body relaxing as it finds its equilibrium while I cruise down the snow. Nothing exist at that moment, just the freezing wind slapping on my face, the feeling of powdery snow under the ski and a gorgeous backdrop of majestic ski slopes surrounding me. It’s what people feel when they are completely and totally in the zone, in the present moment, or when they have their first kiss, or athletes racing in competitive sports.
That feeling of coming down the slope, zigzagging through groups of people and other snowboarders, avoiding them while practicing my turning, that exhilarating high is like a drug, extremely addictive. I didn’t want to leave despite them closing the mountain at 4pm. I didn’t want to leave even when it snowed heavily and my face hurts from the pelting of the snow flakes. Like a child engrossed in his playing, I forgot to go to the toilet, forgot to take a drink, forgot to take my lunch. All I wanted was to go up the slope, and come down again, and again and again.
There was never a time when I felt afraid of falling. Yes, I fell many times and there were times when my feet were entangled between the skis, damn that was difficult. I had to scream for my friend to help me. I wasn’t afraid of the fall, I was afraid being in the middle of the trail, some novice skiers like myself may ram onto me. That was on the 2nd day. Still a novice eh. Anyhow, despite the number of times falling, I do not feel fearful of the sport. I felt that snow and trails and the mountain are friendly and safe.
My friend who has skied before predicted that I won’t like the sport because many of her friends tire out real quick because wearing the ski boots and ski plates is a very tiring feat. Especially when we have to walk up slope in them. I didn’t think that I will fall in love with it as well. Despite being unfit and living a rather sedentary life, I did not feel tired at all while skiing, and I skied from 11am-4pm for 3 consecutive days! Oh yes, my whole body ached after the first day, and my shin hurts from the tightness of the ski boots, but all these disappeared the moment I put on the skis!
Upon further reflection, I realized that life should be lived this way. It should be delicious and juicy with things that totally enrapture us and make us forget about everything else but the present moment. Skiing is all play and fun to me. It’s not scary, or boring or tiring at all. I feel like a kid again, play and have fun – minus scoldings and nags from the adults of course! haha. Well my dad and sister only asked me if it’s expensive to ski. Well yes, it is expensive to Malaysians. To quote my friend “Skiing is Rich Man’s sport”.
So for now, I’m off in search of the next slope… my next ski trip will be 7 nights with lessons and I vowed to myself I will not leave the mountain until I can ski the Intermediate slopes!!