Let us live free
March 15, 2002
As we free and brave Americans and Aspenites flirt with a process of willingly relinquishing yet another inalienable right, I would like to respectfully share some thoughts with your readers in general, and the Aspen Skiing Co. in particular (in support of their “Freedom to Choose” policy – Go guys!).
I donned my skis yesterday morning (Saturday, the day after “the big dump”) and hit Ajax for some fresh powder. It was a glorious, sunny day with lots of light, fresh snow – visions of Alta, Jackson Hole, Snowbird where memories of the steep and the deep feed the souls of us powder hounds on a regular basis.
As I was reveling in the beauty and freedom the soft, sparkling whiteness brings to the senses, I noticed a distinct change in my fellow skiers. Most of the adults and children alike were sporting fancy, new, shiny helmets while a few brave, free souls had on knit hats and some even had on earbands which let their hair blow and fly in the wind.
I’ve noticed in the paper lately letters pressuring the Aspen Skiing Co. to require children and now the ASC staff to wear helmets when skiing. I grew up in Maine (when Sugarloaf had T-bars), ran my first ski race when I was 6 (and wet my pants when the starter said “go”), lived for 10 years with an Olympic champion skier in Jackson Hole, was executive director of Ski the Rockies (a marketing group of the 12 major RM ski resorts) for another 10, have lived in Aspen 25 years, raised three children here (because here they can know and feel personal freedom) and am currently teaching a course at Yampah Mountain High School in Glenwood entitled “An Expanded Look at American History.”
In this course I am tracing the role of trust and inspiration in bringing profound freedom to the human condition and America’s role in it. I point out how the Mayflower Pilgrims, the drafters and signers of the Declaration of Independence, George Washington (when he crossed the Delaware with a ragtag army of exhausted and hungry shopkeepers, farmers and fishermen and defeated the Hessians – the most powerful, trained mercenary army in the world – without one casualty or wound to his men) among many, many others used the principle of total trust in their inner knowing (and what they called divine providence) to guide them in the forging of this nation, how they modeled the way this courage to walk beyond the limits of fear allowed them to perform “miraculous” feats.
Now in 2002, as fear dominates our senses – globally with the “unknown terrorist” and locally with that dastardly tree that seems to be jumping out of the woods and slaughtering our innocent skiers – we are willingly crying out, “We must armor ourselves!” and teaching our children early and thoroughly that they are not safe ANYWHERE.
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Especially not on their bikes, not on the slopes, not on their horses or their rollerblades, and, of course, not in a car or at school. (When will we start requiring bulletproof vests and helmets in schools?)
I would like to share a glimpse of a world view where helmets, seat belts and other commonly accepted means of “protection” are not only a restriction of freedom, but in fact contribute to the very state they are meant to “prevent.”
Now this takes a stretch since it is “outside the box” of the prevailing belief system. I will throw out a couple of concepts to ponder, without belaboring them.
One inalienable right that was granted us in this free society was the right to choose. It is my belief that we have a fundamental choice between the fear “frequency” where “accidents” happen, and the trust “frequency” where magic happens, and since we create our own reality – why would we give up the right to choose a reality full of beauty, balance and abundance where one can live joyfully, gleefully at one with our horse, the mountain, our skis, our bikes?
At least, that’s what I teach my kids. Consider the possibility that each time one puts on that seat belt or that helmet that one has entered the fear frequency with all the other “accidents” waiting to happen, whereas if one walks in trust, one finds oneself uplifted by one’s own sense of aliveness to a place where guardian angels and “divine providence” work their wonders.
The other concept I would like to share is the idea that perhaps each soul has a journey and that this life-walk is a part of that journey. When an individual’s journey takes them to an early or violent death, does that mean that each of us must fear that possibility for ourselves and armor ourselves against it?
Ultimately, could that person have “prevented” his or her “untimely” death or crippling accident or disease? Can we know another soul’s journey, or our own for that matter?
Can’t we live and let live? Choose and let others choose? Model a courageous and free spirit who looks a paradigm of fear in the face and walks beyond it into the trust and freedom that is humanity’s birth right?
The Native Americans have a profound and liberating saying: “Today is a good day to die.” Please, Aspen, let us live free if we so choose, and allow us to teach our children that life is an adventure and a journey, unique to each of us, and they are surrounded by love and protection inherent in the gift of life. Then, perhaps, that is the reality they will create for themselves.