(Or: For Goodness Sake, not Another Story about Snow!)
Turning back half way down the mountain was indulgent. It snowed in the very last hour of our three days on the mountain, and we were exhilarated after long, watchful hours spent beside our hotel window, desperately hoping that the torrents of rain would give way to buckets of snow.
We have been chasing snow for two whole years since arriving in Paradise; and being strictly off-season (i.e. cheap!) visitors we are always hunting the first or last snowfall of the year – so far with modest results. This had not been an easy trip for me, and I had wondered more than once if we would come this way again*. Finally we had farewelled our favourite places, snapped our cameras and thrown snowballs. We knew it was time go home, but instead we turned the van around and drove half an hour back up the mountain for one more, final play in the snow. Turning back half way down the mountain a second time was just barmy. On or second descent, after our second round of farewells, we reached the very same spot in our descent and once again turned back! Up we drove, as high as we could, where snow was falling fast, whipped around by the unrelenting blast that had battered our building for 36 hours. This time we sat in the car, lonely pilgrims in a blizzard, and I sobbed loud and wretchedly for the good times past. The memories, the things we have lost, the adventure we have shared, and all that we may never see again.
I want a perfect life; and I ache terribly when perfection slips through my fingers. I want perfection for my wife, my family, and – I can’t pretend otherwise – for myself. I am greedy for an unreasonable perfection. I want idyllic weather on important days. I want a smile on every face. I want to find the perfect gift for every special occasion, time after time. I want happy endings, big surprises, chance meetings, clement weather, long life, good health, scrumptious meals. I want friendships that last forever. I want deep conversations and good humour every single day. I want to savour love. My perfect-wish-list is boundless, infinite, eternal.
It takes me several sombre days to come down from a mountain, but eventually I return to normal life. When a simple, ordinary day finally arrives with its routines and responsibilities I feel a reassuring tide of joy that deeply satisfies. The perspective on an ordinary day is reliable and true; it is a wide-angle view. From an ordinary day I can see the order in my life. I can grasp the timeliness of events that are separated often by decades, and yet which are so connected that they declare the hand of Providence.
Mountain peaks and valleys deep are unavoidably tied to moments of singular experience; and each must give way, eventually, to the level country of everyday life. There is an order and congruence to life that I can see only on an ordinary day. On the mountain top there is too much adrenaline, and in the valley to much sorrow. Ordinary days have a spiritual beauty. Only on an ordinary day can I truthfully know deep contentment and gratitude. I cherish an ordinary day, lingering in its sameness, nourished by its texture and hue. Many a night I stay up late, unwilling to quench common joy.
I’ve cheated. I wrote those words last winter, but then put them aside; reckoning that my readers would throttle me if I uttered another word on our hapless obsession with snow! But I know their time has come: I’m startled as I read them again to find they speak about today. (And besides, pre-typed words are very attractive to me right now; on account of the real thing being so evasive. It’s bizarre: I can do just about anything, slowly perhaps, and briefly, except type! Tomorrow I’m going to finish some shelving in the shed, but here at my desk I’m beaten by a trackball).
More than ever I am captivated by ordinary days!
I love the week’s routine; each day unique within a rhythm of expectation.
I’m living a High-Fidelity life.
And I ask myself this question: Why?
* But we have been back since then, and we will do so again! It’s odd what you can think at times.