This week has been filled with many emotions and thoughts. As you know by now, my brain always finds a connection back to skiing and live somehow. This week was no different.
My friend and co-instructor Don Gale lost his battle with cancer. His memorial/life celebration was yesterday at Brighton Ski Resort. This was a very bittersweet event. It was like a family reunion and yet filled with a combination of laughter, deep sadness and inspiration. All celebrating the extraordinary life of Don.
Don’s philosophy for life was to see everything as an adventure and to breathe it in. At least that’s what I learned from Don. As my life took different directions and challenges, I remember telling Don about the time me and my family had decided to move to Houston Texas.. Don sat back and grinned at me. It was really more like a smirk… I expected to hear some discussion about the politics of gun control, or a Pres. Bush thought, or maybe a jab about no snow in Texas.. (which as i recall that actually did come up)… Don softly looked at me and said, “sounds like a cool adventure to me..” That was his way.. Everything was “a cool adventure”. These were words I would hear often from Don over the years.
Over the years as a ski instructor I have always had a tough time dealing with the end of the ski season. For some reason, at the end of every Winter, i get emotional.. especially on the drive down the canyon.. after the good-byes to my ski family and my tools of the trade securely loaded on the roof of the Subaru. I shared this with Don once.. he again smirked and said.. “sounds like you are ready for some Summer adventures to get ready for another epic Winter..” usually followed by the cool trips he had planned with his family to bike a national park, hike a new trail or visit distant family.. with more biking and hiking.
At the memorial Don’s brother talked about the fable of the ant and the grasshopper. The grasshopper wanted to play all day and have fun, while the ant worked hard to prepare for the pending Winter season. Don was definitely the grasshopper…. Don’s Winter never came.. or was it that he chose to never live as a series as seasons, but to live them all with no end..
I remember hearing a talk in church as a child, that our lives will all eventually come full circle and come to the Winter (or end) of this life cycle. that always puzzled me. Don taught me that there is no such thing. Yesterday saying good-bye to an old friend and mentor of life and skiing it finally made sense in a different way. Life is just another adventure, and what comes next HAS to be another “cool adventure” that we all must eventually experience..
Thank you Don for showing us all about how to live the “Endless Winter Life”.
As Spring turns to Summer and Summer turns to fall.. Winter is always just around the corner. Every season brings new adventure opportunities. This reinforces my thought in an earlier post… that there two seasons. The ski season and the pre-ski season.
After memorial, I wrote in Don’s memory book at the door.. something like, “Don you have taught us all very valuable lessons while here, I have learned that you have become my new measurement of success.. (a teaching term we use in all lessons).. see you soon…”
Lelani and I drove down the canyon, stopping to take a short hike and reflect on the day..
Again I say… Skiing is life. As I continue to try to find the “Endless Winter” life or live like the grasshopper….
Well done Don!
Ski you later…