I went water skiing last summer with a few of my closest, nearest friends. We have a spot on the other end of Alouette Lake and my buddy Rod brought his ski boat for entertainment and transportation. Nathan surfed in the wake, Martin learned to wake board, and the old timers pulled out the slalom ski.
Slaloming is very zen for me. For just a few minutes every other year-or-so I can con my way on to the back of a boat and feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme. It is perhaps my best moment. Skydiving once gave me that charge but one day, as I was falling backwards at 125 mph through a pillowy cloud, I realized I was a single-parent and I was bored. The thrill wasn’t worth the risk, in the end. To this day when I look up at the clouds I see them as only a skydiver can. I look and I am still falling through the sky on that stormy, stormy night. As I feel the wind in my face and turn to the magnificent Nimbus cloud I glance to my left and there is my father, co-pilot in a cockpit racing me to the earth, nose to the ground. I see him seeing me and that moment is imprinted in my mind forever. In that moment.
Water skiing didn’t come easy to me. It seemed like it took years of begging to learn how to slalom well. Huge rooster tails, clockwork rhythm, sapped my strength and threatened to slam me into the water at every turn. I have tried other things behind a rope (I have a newspaper clipping of me in the air, parachute unfurled, being dragged down the frozen Snye River by my buddy Ferguson and his truck). There is one legend about Scott Williams that reads that once, while on Kalamalka Lake near Kelowna, I was completely submerged while still trying to get up on one ski. Apparently there was only a ripple on the surface, I was totally under. I seem to remember deciding at one point in my submarine dive that I should probably point my ski up, back towards the surface. Like the Hunt For Red October I finally came charging out of the abyss, a mighty destroyer careening through the waves..
Feel the rhythm. Feel the rhyme.
Getting good at anything takes time and rhythm. Change comes to those who are persistent, who refuse to quit and put in the time. Change takes time so put it in. I can always find lots of reasons to throw in the towel. Persistence is a mind game, pure and simple. You will be tempted to feel sorry for yourself, go ahead but then stop… defeated. You will lose sight of the goal at some point. Dust yourself off and get back on the tennis court. The task sometimes feels insurmountable but keep making those gross protein shakes if that floats your boat.
How is your rhythm? Still racing around and stressed? What is really important for you to do this week? Is whatever is bothering you worth so much head time? Are you happy with your life, right now?
I’m learning to play bass. As Bob, my guru teacher told me, bass is about locking in with the drummer. It’s about finding the pocket and feeling the rhythm. Never mind the sweaty freaks playing guitar and drop into the groove. Be cool. That’s pretty good advice for life. Sometimes I get so busy being busy I forget to lock in, I forget to groove. I forget to feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme. The screaming urgencies of life suck the life out of me, and probably out of you. As I told a friend today, there is no end to the misery if I let it lock me in.
Don’t forget to be cool. Don’t fight the waves; strap on that slalom ski and feel the tug. Slice through those waves, if only for a few minutes. In skiing, as in life, it’s about learning to ride the wave, not submarine through it. It’s about finding the pocket.
Welcome to summer.