typical lunch during ski season

The other day as I was eating my lunch between ski lessons (standard half a peanut butter sandwich, apple, half a protein bar and a quart or two of water) , I had a moment to reflect on the previous days events… Like most of us, the first news of the day that a devastating earthquake had hit Japan and caused a deadly tsunami. The pictures were haunting.. the information was of course unclear just how bad the disaster really was. At first they were saying 50 casualties, then 75, then more. Nuclear power plants were exploding, farm land was being consumed by the flood of debris and fast moving water… “wow, how amazing.. that sucked”  I thought. Then my mind shifted to out friends and family in Hawaii.. the news mentioned that the shorelines of Hawaii were being evacuated.

This all seemed so far away, but still so tragic. The pictures are so unbelievable.


As I sat there eating my lunch, my thoughts quickly went back to that day and hold it seemed like another typical day at Brighton… cold air and plenty of snow.. and eager students. As I was getting my uniform on, our ski school director came up to me and asked if I would help teach a group of Japanese exchange students that day, I looked up laughing and asked, “do they speak English?” He said with a grin, “no.. but you’ll figure it out”. It was true! We had a group of about 45 Japanese students that wanted to learn to ski. As part of our intro to the group, we were given a quick Japanese lesson.. and a ‘cheat sheet’ with Japanese words written out phonetically. We were also asked NOT to talk about the earthquake and tsunami with the classes. I thought this was interesting… so we went out and taught them. This isn’t the first time I have had students that spoke a different language, so I had an idea of what to expect. This was one of the coolest lessons I have taught. Even with a language barrier, we found ways to communicate and even laugh and sing songs… sure they were John Denver songs, but these kids knew all the words! What cool experience… After the lesson, they gathered the kids together and told them about the news out of Japan. All their families were safe, but some had friends and distant relatives that were still missing or not heard from. Wow… THAT was a not so subtle reality check. The TV station showed up and interviewed a couple of the kids that spoke English and of course asked the question we all hoped they wouldn’t.. “how do you feel about the news of the tsunami?” and “are you anxious to go home and be with your family?” The answers impressed me.. they all seemed concerned and saddened by the news, but were strong and firm with the responses they gave. All confident that all was fine with their families and that they pray for the families that have lost their loved ones that day. Again, cool kids and very evolved… I was taught something that day from getting close to those students, even if it was for only a couple of hours.


Later in the afternoon, at the end of the day.. I gave one of our instructors a ride down the canyon. As we made our way down the beautiful Big Cottonwood canyon, we talked about the day and of the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I mentioned that living in Utah is a scary thing considering all the fault lines around us and how an earthquake half that big would flatten the Salt Lake Valley. She talked about being prepared and yet not ever being completely prepared physically or emotionally for tragic stuff. She then went on to tell me the story of her daughter-in-law that has been fighting ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) for several years. 4 years ago she was given 6 months to 4 years to live. She just turned 35 and was told she won’t see 36. A marathon runner, a mom and wife…. We talked about how my friend’s son was handling all this and how hard it must be. She told me that they actually have been marking off items from her “bucket list” for the past 4 years…. HOLY CRAP! Amazing…


And my sad story is that I lost a job, doing what I’ve always wanted to do, and have been doing for 25+ years. What a pathetic whiner I have been.. How luck and blessed I am. What subtle little promptings and energy there is around us all the time.


I have been humbled.. I am grateful my health is good, my family’s health is good and we are relatively injury free. I need to try to enjoy the good stuff and appreciate what I have more often. I hope I never have to deal with a tsunami or 9.0 earthquake. I hope I NEVER have to deal with the deterioration of my wife or tragic death of a family member. I am starting to hear the little subtle lessons I am being taught through my small insignificant ordeal.


The other day, at the end of a lesson,  I asked one of my student if they had any questions for.. one of the students said, “yes Dain,  what is it?” I said “what”.. she said, “the meaning of life.” I laughed and said… “skiing” of course. They laughed as I explained the correlation between finding balance in life and finding balance in skiing….  (big subject for another time..)


Listen for the subtle gratitude… you’re heard it. This will take us to a place of deeper humility and appreciation.

(not so) Subtle gratitude = humble attitude (yes, I came up with this.. really!)

(this is usually the subject of all of the lectures Emi hears lately.. over and over and over, another story for another time)