At 3.00am, at 4.30, 6.00, and then 7.00 we peaked through the blinds in our ‘studio chalet’ (which sounds just a little oxymoronic: isn’t it one or the other?) hoping against hope to see snow!
Would our third alpine escape prove as disappointingly snow-flake-free as the previous two? The emotions involved in this simple state of affairs were, for me, cataclysmic. Surely a mature man and his Favourite Wife would have learned to adopt a philosophical stance towards life’s ups and downs after our many years of turbulent family life? Not by a long shot!
It’s something that I have noticed happening lately: I agonize over all the wrong things. I obsess over trivial details and invest myself in insignificance as though life itself were in the balance. Sometimes I feel like a flake! I needed to purchase a head band torch for the Gibson Desert trip I have just completed. I went to shop after shop, day after day, endlessly lugging Bugger in and out of the car boot and then waking up during the night: completely unable to make a decision! A fortnight ago we spent a blissful weekend celebrating the engagement of one of our daughters. It was truly a glorious time, culminating with a seaside picnic where our nine year old girl characteristically absconded from her post in a perfect family photo. It was a very normal thing for her to do; and typical of the stubborn independence that we have come to associate with Down syndrome. Yet this one moment of disappointment – a simple photo with a child missing – threatened my equilibrium for days!
A life-crisis magnifies the unimportant. Normal proportion goes out the window to be replaced with an imposed sense of urgency, probably false, that says “now or never!” An absurd drive for continued real-time perfection exaggerates every loss and tarnishes every pleasure.
I once read the moving account of a holocaust survivor who spoke of her parents being unable to protect her from serious harm during her childhood. Having witnessed unimaginable evil they could no longer perceive ordinary danger. Although it might seem trivial by comparison, I sometimes feel that my thoughts are so often occupied with ultimate issues that I don’t know any longer how to handle immediate ones.
So, we kept vigil in our chalet, but we were to be disappointed once more! The snow was a no-show beyond the pane of our window; with much consequent pain in our hearts.
Driving home we detoured through Thredbo and noticed a ski lift running up the mountainside. Karen went to investigate, which was unexpected as her choice of seating leans decisively toward something soft and cosy near the fire, certainly not a chair lift, and she abhors heights. She soon returned with a firm declaration, “No, no and no! It’s raining, it’s scary, it’s extremely cold and you won’t be able to move quick enough to get on the seat and what would happen with Bugger (the wheel chair) and what will you do at the top without it anyway? Definitely No!” All of which sounded pretty exciting to me!
Once more my flaky emotions saw an opportunity to flurry. But we might never come here again. Next time we find a mountain I might not be well enough. We haven’t seen any snow. Now or never!
But just a few miles further on my wife spun the car around. It’s not for nothing I call her Favourite! We headed back, hired the clothing, bought the tickets!
It was brilliant, dazzling! And terrifying for one of us. Towards the top of the 600 metre cable lift (with Bugger securely stowed on the seat beside us) the temperature dropped even lower, the wind blew and snow began to whip around our faces! On the summit we drank hot tea in the highest restaurant in the country; and learned that we had arrived for the very first snow fall of the season! Then we ventured out into the white. Rather hard to find words to describe the fun and exhilaration of our day in the snow.
Reason returned, balance was regained and our cares vanished for that day. I’d like to think that we learned, once more, that life is held in bigger hands than our own. I’m a little worried that I might soon embrace another flaky cause; but even if I do, I know beyond doubt that I won’t do it alone.