Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Enchanted Forest, Skiing With My Daughter, and Fun

By Kristy McCaffrey 

Elizabeth and Hannah, always having fun.
During our recent family ski trip to Telluride, Colorado, I had the opportunity, on the last day of our vacation, to hang out with my youngest daughter, Hannah, and her friend, Elizabeth. The two of them had been spending their time on the mountain on their own, enjoying their independence as only 14-year-olds can.

At the end of the trip, however, they both expressed a desire to ski The Plunge, the famous run at Telluride. A black diamond at the top and a double-black at the bottom, this wasn’t a descent for beginners. (Ski runs are rated as green, blue or black, from easiest to most difficult.) But I knew Hannah and Elizabeth had the skills necessary, so offered to take them. They succeeded in their quest, and I was happy to help them push their limits. There’s nothing like the feeling of tackling something you fear and coming out the other side successful.

I find this sign rather philosophical.
A metaphor for life?

Hannah and Elizabeth on the Plunge.

In return, they invited me into the Enchanted Forest, a trail through the trees. Honestly, it never occurs to me to engage in skiing of this sort. I’m always trying to better myself by attacking steep, mogul-filled hills. How will I get better, otherwise? Is this fun? Mostly, no.

Hannah entering the Enchanted Forest.

So I entered the Enchanted Forest, and to my surprise, that’s where fun had been hiding. Hannah and Elizabeth took such giddy delight in swooshing between trees and getting stuck on flat spots, dissolving into laughter when we all fell and created a pile-up that I found my instant of bliss at long last. You know that moment, when you’re not striving or struggling with the experience, you’re simply one with it. In that space sits wonder, and joy, and happiness.

It seems age and responsibility have clouded my “fun” viewfinder, but my daughter’s is crystal-clear. For the remainder of the afternoon, I followed her keen eyes through a magical and enchanted forest.

Who knew that the "fun" viewfinder is
located in a pair of ski goggles.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Living In The Moment

By Kristy McCaffrey

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

                        ~ Joseph Campbell, The Power Of Myth

It’s a new year, and with that comes resolutions and declarations. And while, in the past, I’ve resolved to not eat sugar on Thursdays, or to try at least one new recipe a week, I decided this year for something more intangible, yet, I believe, just as important.

Living in the moment.

We’ve all heard this before, and it’s undoubtedly one of the most-used clich├ęs around, but hear me out.

Over the holidays, I had a chance to see “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” starring Ben Stiller. With breathtaking locations, the film offers the intriguing theme of living life rather than simply dreaming about it. There is one key scene that stands out, a turning point, of sorts, for Mitty. He has been attempting to track down a famous, yet elusive, photographer named Sean O’Connell (played by Sean Penn). Finally, somewhere in the Himalaya, he practically trips over him. This may seem farfetched, but really, it’s not. View the movie and you’ll understand. O’Connell is trying to photograph a snow leopard, known as the ghost cat because it’s so difficult to capture on film. There is little doubt that’s he’s invested much time and effort to find this creature, that his livelihood depends on taking photos such as these. Suddenly, one appears, but O’Connell pauses, not taking the picture. Mitty asks why, and O’Connell responds that sometimes he just wants the moment for himself, clear and unfettered, without the distraction of the camera. It’s the moment that’s everything.

So, I wish for everyone the ability to pause, to let the worries slide away, for at least one moment every day. Watch a bird outside, notice the woman scanning your groceries and wish her a nice day, look at the sparkles in the snow or the wispy clouds in the sky. Be grateful for simple things—a cup of coffee, your favorite sitcom making you laugh, a visit with an elderly relative that you know may be your last.

Enjoy your moments this year for what they really are—a connection to life and proof that you’re alive.