There’s heaps of stuff which has been learned in other areas of life that can – and should – be applied to snowboarding. Let’s have a look at how common wisdom and some old fart snippets may help your snowboarding life.
Start on a project and never finish it
Winston Churchill was mostly known for being the British prime minister during World War II but also for enjoying the taste of a fat cigar. Folklore also has it Winston had an interesting side-kick project, one which he claimed saved his sanity during rough times: he worked on a huge stone wall by his house.
As Winston slaved away on it on evenings and weekends, the massive wall of stones continually grew longer and taller, but it never got finished. And this was exactly the point! By never finishing it, Winston knew he always had some quiet and interesting work ahead of him. This created a stable point in an otherwise fast-paced life. Almost certainly he was also fond of knowing he created something that would last a long time and out-live himself.
Perhaps we all need a project like this in our lives. Maybe we can see signs of this on the dimensions of some kickers of this season. They just keep getting bigger and bigger each year, as more and more snowboarders learn how to manoeuvre a snow-cat! But as the parks melt away at the end of each season, you might want to find something more lasting as well, so how about keeping your board in tip-top shape? It’s nice and quiet in the garage, basement, or wherever you do your waxing – and I guarantee that your board will never say no to a new layer of wax or some more sharpening of its edges. The fume of some of the more expensive flour-based waxes gives you a decent high as a side-order too.
Pick 2 out of 3 – or pick them all
A widespread meme is that life consists of three ‘objects’ or ‘areas’ – and if you want to be successful in life, you can only pick two of them to focus on. The ‘objects’ mentioned are something along the lines of: Career, Social Life and Sports. Heard the meme and managed to squeeze one of them out? Didn’t think so – and did you fail utterly in life? Didn’t think so either.
Perhaps this is one example were we try to simplify our life too much. The lives of pretty much all of us are way more complex than to simplify into a few well defined and separate areas in a model like that.
But perhaps we can spot a grain of truth in this too, if we look closely at the people nearest to us. Haven’t most of those who are successful at work or business paid a price with either their physical health or their relationship to friends and family? And have the ones doing “all of the sports all of the time" managed to get themselves a career and cultivate close friendships with loved ones? Depending on your answers to these questions, it may be worth keeping this in mind – although it might not guide you through your everyday decisions. For example, you better put it away when you’re deciding whether you should do another season or not…
Talk less – fly more
We’d all have a few free meals at Burger King if we had a dollar for each time we heard/read the phrase “he lets his riding speak for itself", wouldn’t we? This is not only because there’s been heaps of good riders coming out of Finland during the past decade and because Finns are both shy and poor at English. While this may all be true, the main reason for the admiration of someone who can keep his mouth shut and launch his methods large, is that any fool can criticise, condemn and complain – and most fools do. It’s so easy to talk trash about someone or something that we often do it just by opening our mouth without thinking about what we are going to say. One of the brothers credited with constructing the first working aeroplane put it this way: “A parrot talks much and flies little."
No maths – no worries
“I never think of the future. It comes soon enough," Albert Einstein is famed for saying – and this is really good advice. Seldom has anyone been brought to their knees from a day’s work – or a day’s riding for that matter – but often from adding worries about tomorrow’s work to the burden. So never anticipate what may not come. One way of stop worrying about what quite possibly will not happen in the future is doing your maths properly. For example, a significant number of US citizens spend time worrying about getting killed in a terrorist attack, such as the one at the World Trade Center. What few of them think about is that while 2,986 people died on the September 11 attack – and not many more since then – every year more than 45,000 Americans become road-kill victims in traffic accidents in that country. Now, should Americans keep worrying about terrorist attacks or start driving a little more carefully in safer cars?
So how does this apply to your riding? Well, often we spend quite a bit of time preparing for going to the hill, packing our bags, scraping ice from the wind-shield, and so on. Then, while on the hill we worry about whether we look swell in our new ultra low-cut pants, if it’s going to soften up in the afternoon or not, if we got enough battery in the mobile phone to make it through the day, etc. Occasionally you’ll want to throw that all out the window and just focus on going down the hill in the most fun way possible, no matter how you choose to do it. What awaits you when you come to the bottom? The hill will wait for you, and so will your next run. There's very little chance that anything will interfere with your run if you attack it with a no-holds-barred approach.
Anders Hagman is a Swedish former pro snowboarder who likes to cultivate his philosophical garden. His latest book-tip is ‘Innumeracy – Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences’.