TAKE A ROAD TRIP TO A BETTER YOU.
I woke up last night with a phrase in my head. It was, “Love is now. And also what
I thought it was something I had seen on a t-shirt. But I didn’t find anything when I Googled it.
Which made it even stranger to me, because as far as I could tell, I had been dreaming about pine needles softened and scented by rain. And being in a car with friends, driving into an empty ski area parking lot.
Of course I had been thinking about Sam Coffey, the beloved Aspen skier who died on a surfing trip in Mexico in May at the age of 29 after a sudden series of strokes.
I spent the past two seasons on a pair of skis Sam sent me, the Salomon “Brototype,” a small run version of the QST99 that the brand made for friends. The more I think about how happy I am on those skis, the more I imagine Sam had to do with why I felt that way.
As for the phrase in my dream, if you read any of the remembrances of Sam—Backcountry, Freeskier, Powder, SKI, SkiRacing.com, and The Aspen Times all published heartfelt odes to the man—you will see his amazing skiing ability is always mentioned second, right after what a great person he was. Sam shone an almost beatific light of respect and genuine friendship on everyone he met.
Maybe that’s the “Love,” I was dreaming about.
What You Tell Your Heart
It’s crazy to think about how easy shining that light should be—beginning from a point of kindness and genuine interest in the welfare of everyone you meet. What’s even crazier is how hard we seem to make it. I’m always surprised how I can cloud my mind with BS, even when I’m with people I love, doing the things that matter to me the most.
But I’m not going to focus on the numerous ways me, and we, block our own happiness. Especially not via the four-letter word that is, “H-A-T-E.” That’s not what Elevation Outdoors is about. And there are plenty of places where you can get your fill of that.
Instead, as a former motivational speaker, ultra-athlete couples’ counselor, mountain minister of craft-brews and brother of the often high order of offseason ski bums, what I want to do is show you how you can love yourself.
Just kidding. I’m just going to suggest how to make room for the low hanging happiness in your life by getting rid of the low hanging shit. Especially as you travel this summer, and inevitably make new friends on a Colorado road trip.
1. Be More Interested, Than Interesting
When you meet new people, listen first. “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care,” is a wonderful phrase I’ve heard outdoor instructors use, underlining the fact that in any learning situation—like a road trip—people are more likely to work toward a common goal (such as identifying the best local brewpub, or camping spot) if they understand how thoroughly invested you are in hearing what they think. Then you can brag about yourself.
2. Go Local
Celebrating what the locals create, and not just what they sell, is another way to get to know a place quickly. Ask the people who live there (wherever you are) where they spend their money—on coffee, pizza, beer, burgers, bike repairs, flaming whiskey shots or cowboy poetry readings—and they will absolutely hook you up, and almost always suggest some place you would not have found if you hadn’t asked.
3. Do a Little Research
It’s amazing how many mountain towns have little museums, some as big as a mining shack, that provide rich detail about the industry and people who first built the place. Stopping in for a few minutes can give you a deeper appreciation of what it took to be there, especially before cell phones, cars, Gore-Tex Active and the Internet. It can also help illuminate the personal timeline of your own place in the mountain life.
4. Leave a Nice Tip
If you live in a mountain town, you know nothing comes cheap—which is why leaving a decent gratuity for good service can go a long way towards helping a local stay local, and supporting the vibe of a cool spot. Besides, you didn’t hit the road to save money, right?
Love is Next
Which brings me back to that phrase I dreamt. To me, it means loving the now, the place you are in, and the people and creatures who are with you in it. To steal a line from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, it’s as simple as walking into a situation—any situation—and saying, “Isn’t this great?!”
Being happy now, and in love with everything from the weather to the view to the fact that you are alive and breathing sweet mountain air, makes each moment more perfect. It lets you sigh, and smile, and realize just how good you’ve got it.
And by being able to find the beauty in every moment (even an I-70 traffic jam, for instance, because the folks in L.A. don’t have views like that), it will be that much easier to recognize the beauty in what you discover next.
—Elevation Outdoors editor-at-large Peter Kray is the author of The God of Skiing. The book has been called “The greatest ski novel of all time.” Don’t believe the hype? buy it here and read it now: amzn.to/2LmZPvN