The sun shone so bright on the snow covered valley it was impossible to go out without dark glasses. And no need for hat or jacket; within minutes I'd be sweating. I could not resist the call of the wild. I strapped on my skate skis, tuned my ipod up to my Kada playlist---Califone, Ulrich Schnaus, Imogen Heap, Sia, Tabla Beat Science, Talvin Singh, St. Germain, La Cor de la Plana, Snow Patrol, Joni Mitchell, and set off into the blazing sun-filled cold winter day in the Pasayten wilderness.
The day before I had finished plowing my way through The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a most disconcerting, haunting, terrible, beautiful book. It left me holding the emptiness of the almost end of the world in my book-filled hands, the loneliness and desperation of being a person still alive in that situation, the odd, overwhelming attachment to life even in the face of absolute charred ruin. And it made us contemplate the beauty of young human spirits and the deep-seated goodness embedded in them.
Today my view of the world was enlightened by the shadow cast by that book. I was in a place that I consider my cathedral, my heaven on earth, full of life, goodness, natural wonders. It was a gorgeous day in Mazama. I set out skate skiing with not much ambition frankly. My back hurt; it's been strained, and I was tired from digging a snow tunnel with my daughter earlier in the day. But I couldn't not go out on this kind of day; it seemed like it would be a sin. And given the haunt of "The Road" i really did think, you never know, it could be the last. I swallowed a few advil to overcome my back's resistance to the outing.
I've skied many times before; I have my regular route. Not overly long just a good workout. I set out gliding easily over the sparkly snow and before I knew it my glutes and my quads were working wonders and I was flying down the trail, paced by the rhythm of my heartbeat and St. Germain in my ears...I felt like I was floating. I saw Walter up ahead on the trail and skied right to him and gave him a kiss. We rested, we chatted and I couldn't convince him to go on with me. His feet hurt. Off we went our separate ways. I continued on and a few songs later I I arrived at my usual turning back spot and I slid to a stop and looked around the open snow covered fields. I was all alone surrounded by open fields. Silence. Fullness. And I pushed off again. Deep in it.
I came upon a Child of God walking along the ski trail and I asked her where she was going to and she said she was trying to get her soul free. And I thought, yes, we are star dust; we are golden. We each skied off and the child disappeared in a cloud. Off past Yasgur's farm, down Coyote Run and then on to Goat Creek trail, over to Fawn Creek I went climbing, sweating, glinting as the sun filtered through the trees. I had reached a heavenly high gear. A goat on skate skies; the mountain before me, up and up I climbed scissor skiing my way up the trail, sucking in and puffing out steamy clouds of air. By the time I got to Fawn creek I paused and celebrated the rushing frigid waters making their ways around the snow blanketed boulders in the creek. Sacred stones. I thought about "The Road" and the phrase in the book, "There is no later. This is later." Before me was a perfect vision of snow-caked beauty, a crystal clear rushing river alive with trout and moss and animal tracks on the banks. Nothing between us and them. Sacred stones. I soaked my soul in the creek's presence, in the moment, and felt cleansed and free; the proportions of my soul expanding. Om namaha shiva. Om namaha shiva. The music chimed in.
I had no water to drink because I didn't expect to be out this long. I was miles from home and thirsty in the dry, high altitude. I thought about eating some snow. Then I remembered again the book, the road, why would they keep walking on a road...where was their imagination...they were filled with fear... with good reason...cannibals everywhere...the dark side of humanity...and my thirst felt trivial, small, slaked. I let it all go and looked again at my cathedral full of gratitude. I came back to the airy wilderness of heaven I was within. And I pushed off the bridge over the creek and headed up one last hill through the pine strewn forest. I gazed up at a tree branch and there was a squirrel working over a pine cone munching on pine nuts. A moment, a fruitful gaze. Panting up to the top, I saw two skiers up ahead coming down; I stopped my climb, lost my balance and fell down. Nothing between us and them. Trains passing by. Ouch, my back screamed. The women whizzed by and I untangled my skies and got up. To the top I pushed and when I got there I paused and gazed with anticipation down the trail steep and winding through the forest. The reward. I see all the berries of the world raining down on me from the berry tree in the sky....in the sublime, in the sublime, I wish it could always be this way...I took off serenaded ..forever forever...I get lost in the sublime...taking a big bite of the juicy cherry. Think happy thoughts...happier thoughts and I will fly.
I was cruising, leaning, curving, sliding, breathing, laughing, smiling, floating, flying through the turns...one after another...down, down, down...no one was out...in the sublime...my reward for going beyond my limitations....stretching for it....following Ganesh as he removed the obstacles...gave me a new beginning...breathe, breathe...I was one step closer I am one step closer to heaven...never the same girl twice. This was skate skiing nirvana. I went on for miles.
And when I got home and shared my exhilaration, my thrill, the fact that I had reached an incredible new realm in my growing skate skiing universe, my teenage boys grunted a polite "oh that's nice mom..." and went about their lazy day business. Smells like teen spirit. Help Help I thought. Be with me. But they weren't where I was. I felt a bit alone then. Be calm. Alone with the incredibleness of my afternoon. The beauty of this natural journey. And the realization that we can be one with the universe. The proportions of our soul can be expand by it. And in fact, we are alone with it; we hold it within us, we cradle it, we search for ways to share it, release it. Occasionally we walk side by side in it. Trust me on this one. No hesitation. Smash. bap bap bap.bop. Breathe. Down the ski trail we go, we went. And to billion year old carbon we will soon return. Songs and celebration. Stardust.