(...just so you know: This is another chapter in my personal diary...)
Long term intentions,
on a wild and so-rough road.
A bittersweet taste.
Working forwards towards a once-to-be-made journey, I keep shifting, analysing, comparing and trying to match new jigsaw-pieces, and trying new things. To use our pasttime as a means to devellop myself and find my own limits. To try myself. To see and try new things and, above all, to feel new things. Preferably parallel to the journey I once hope to complete. With the intention of doing it, as learned in grammar school, while 'miscere utili dulce'. Mixing something usefull and sweet, if possible at all with the intention of arriving at the finish line a bit 'rounder'. (Was that a remark with Horatius, da Vinci or Amundsen in mind...?)
Alright. I like some things in our pasttime. But I'm not blind to it's downsides. Heading for your own limits, our pasttime quickly shows trouble and physics-bound hard impossibilities: Men like Munter mention Russian roulette, more then a hundred persons die, on avarage, in the alps alone with boards on their feet every year and 'white powder is adictive'. As a 26-year old without a final will, certainty doesn't exist. And I feel as if I'm on the verge of making a big mistake every time I chase my dream. You just don't know. On this forum, in everyday life. Driving towards the alps, flying towards snow or taking a northbound-night-train towards negative-temperatures. But I try, and just give it a go. On a solid foundation of facts and filtered information.
To un-burden @meteomorris I learn a new language and ask the Scandi-of-all-Scandi's himself in his own language and in a Scandi-ski-magazine how to handle such responsabilities. Because I want to, but just don't know. In translation, I find confirmation: 'When in doubt, do it' ( (much like Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.'s words). And that means embracing cold as much as warmth, and to keep building a way of life based on responsible principles. In other words, I get to keep building my dream.
Paying a visit just below the arctic circle where the old hospitality from the Souther-European historic books is the concrete that apears to shapes society today, I'm submerged in a warm bath and get to study and feel another piece of my puzzle: Life in the cold. Fjords and fast flowing fords shouldn't, but freeze over none-the-less and in the midle of it, I'm surprised by cross-country skiing's downhill-dimension. I've long wanted to taste just that. Some downhill on cross-country gear. As I young boy, I've heard a story about Easter-German athletes being forced down the slopes of a Swiss ski-resort by their trainer to learn how to make a difference in the skill-department. Of course I've wanted to try something similar ever since hearing the story.
Cross-country skiing. 'Langlaufen'. Langrenn. Ski de fond. A decade later, with the intention of becomming a skiing 'homo universalis', that whas what I wanted to try. Even if it was only once. And biatlon had to be the best. Power AND precision. Impossible to combine and therefore praiseworthy. It never happened, but another decade later, a seed of dreams was planted and 'crescendo gramen sementat'. Just give it a go. Give something new a try. It couldn't be harder then telemarking. Could it? Only retired people and people who haven't tried donwhill skiing ever do it. Don't they? After some more literature study I gave it a try with the intention of crossing it of my bucket list and continue onwards.
The beginning is a challenge. Let's calibrate. Stability(?) and standing upright on something halfway slippers and ice skates. Quite a technical challenge, but the dynamic stability solutions from my telemarking experience save the day. Years of technical exercises on simple slopes apear to pay off. For an absolute beginner, I'm upright quite often. And I'm going uphill and in the right direction. Slowly, but steadilly. Applied physics and chemistry in the back of my mind and downside of my skis are connected with the new language I'm trying to learn on the merrit of intuition. In other words: 'Bakkslab' occurs and a new chapter and dimension in my library on wax (or smør) is opened. And yes. I crash. That's a fact, but I'm still going boldly where I've never gone before (...) and up an old pass-road through Norwegian fjell. After a while, 'kakao' is drunk and 'pølsene blir spiset.
It's sometime past two o'clock in the afternoon and time to head home. But Emile and his downhill-technique 'exeunt', as it was called in my grammar-school Sheakspeare hours. Real hate and rough desperation rise to mind and it is years ago since I've tasted these emotions so real. Before we're back in the parkinglot, I've almost cried in anger and early exhaustion. Angry, mad at myself that it doesn't work. Incompetent. Everything I am and thought to be lies in shambles at my feet as crushed pieces of ice after a fall because my technique and gathered skill on these narrow strips (these borrowed and I must say gorgously-looking competition-fishers are no 'boards' in my book) fail. It can not be. Exhaustion? Incompetence? Ignorance? Are they all present in the mix? I may be what the locals call an 'alpinist' (?!) but going back down a (max 9%) road on these things feels insane in comparison with my memory of a La Grave-mixture of broken tele-shoes in a rocky and icy, narrow couloir. As short as it may have been.
After I while I suddenly find myself perplexed, realising that this is, even in absolute darkness, 'modus operandi' for the locals speeding away from me. And an instant later, to my own suprise, I find myself positively amazed: Once the fear is gone, it excites me!
Hey! It's been done this way for generations. And it appears to function. This is the cold shower I longed to find. To learn something new. A challenge and a strugle rise as I choose to try again, another day. My wax skills grow into a new dimension. In some fields, I'm loosing ground on all sides as a rookie-recruit while I, to my own surprise excell (Thank you Dutch SnowSafetyInsitute & @Opa! ) in some other. It motivates me. Even when I can no longer contain irritation and desperation three tours and quite some falls and bruices later. But it no longer matters. Neither does the influence of my diabetes on my state of mind. I'm hooked by the reflection on this other face of the diamond of skiing & wintersports. It has me.
Several tries in the right direction. A small chance of succes. The puzzle is still not comming along nicely. I may not have invested any means, but I didn't gain anything yet. Or did I? I begin to understand that a few sidesteps, could be a few steps towards my long term goal. Giving up has often, pretty much always, appeared to be easier. And I'm glad that it's been a long time since I've given something up. I found the cold I wanted to experience, jogging around a small village below the polar circle. With my headlight in 20 below temperatures. Just because I could. I'm gratefull for the chances I've been given and intend to make the most of them. Hopefully I'll find just as much challenge, joy and pleasure on my path in the future heading up max 9% old roads with new zastrugis and in excellent company.
After years and years, I'm still not closing in on my skiing-dream. But thanks to the willingness to do some dirty work in good company and to keep playing with new pieces of an old jigsaw, I feel that I'm closing in on my dream on a daily bases. Are you willing to do a dirty job to see another face on the diamond that our pasttime is?