The gospel according to Stevie Wonder goes like this:
Don’t delay, send yours in right away
Hate’s goin' 'round breakin' many hearts
Stop it, please, before it’s gone too far
Love’s in need of love today
And from Thích Nhất Hạnh
When you understand and you show you understand, you can love, and the situation changes.
I recently returned from The Magic of Skiing program, held yearly by my friend and mentor, author and teacher Thomas Crum. It was indeed a magical program--a week of meditation, physical activity, deep conversation and community in the magical town of Aspen, Colorado. And, of course, skiing!!
Tom has been holding the program for 30+ years. And in spite of the fact that last year's Ski Week didn't happen because of Covid, this year 60 participants and 15 coaches showed up. There are generations of skiiers who have learned Tom's Aiki approach to skiing and life. Attendees arrived with spouses, friends, partners and adult children. The oldest was a virtual attendee--Klaus Obermeyer--102. The youngest, Emily, 13. Tom said they would make sure Klaus attends next year, to become the first person to have spent 100 years skiing (he started at the age of 3 on wooden boards nailed to the bottom of his shoes).
The founder of Sport Obermeyer, Ltd, and one of the original ski instructors on Aspen Mountain, Klaus created the first down parka out of a comforter, one of many innovations and improvements he contributed to the sport. Klaus was inducted into the U.S. National Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1997, swims every day, "skis better than he walks" and still has a hand in the family-owned company.
I tell Klaus's story (and I hope you'll click the links and learn more about him) because the first and lasting impression I have as Tom interviewed him via Zoom, was the love that poured from his smile, his laughter, and his stories. Giggling like the 3-year old skier he still has inside him, he enchanted and modeled for us what it means to be truly alive.
A Glorious Week
Being enchanted by Klaus came at the end of a glorious week in which I walked, hiked, swam outdoors in a heated pool (30-degrees and snowing) and walked barefoot back to my room (!), visited the John Denver Sanctuary on the outskirts of Aspen, an Andy Warhol exhibit at the Aspen Art Museum, and rode the gondola to the top of Aspen Mountain (where I hiked some more). That's me and my friend Judy Warner at the top!
I rested, read, and was grateful for the "space for grace" as participant and Navy SEAL Curt Cronin put it. I think grateful was the primary feeling all week. Grateful for my health, new friends, old friends, my family, my ability to attend a program like this, and for people in the world like Tom and his ski instructor coaches who support the skiers with the Aiki approach on the mountain.
Also grateful for great conversations with Tom and others about conflict, divergent views, the state of our world, and important reinforcement about how we might find our way through our conflicts, tough conversations, and relationship dilemmas. Learnings like:
- Being right versus being in relationship
- How to hold diverging views with respect and curiosity
- One turn, one mogul, at a time
- Remembering key phrases when conflict arises: What can I learn here? and Where's the gift?
- (From Klaus) Enter the problem and try to make something good out of it. Love the problem, don't hate it. Make it a teacher. Hold onto an indestructible sense of wonder.
- (Also from Klaus) May we all die saying YES!!
As you can probably tell, the week affected me in many ways. Because I'm not a skier, and even though I've worked with Tom over the years on many programs, I had not attended this one. I was deeply touched, as I always am, by Tom's teaching, his commitment to this work, his soul and his beautiful heart. Everyone who shows up at his programs is like this, too--learners with big hearts. It was like coming home.
Lastly, a joke I heard one participant tell another at breakfast one morning:
What ship has two mates and no captain? --Friendship!!
It was that kind of week. ☺️
Love's in need of love today. Don't delay, send yours in right away.
Wishing you all kinds of new and renewed friendships, love, gratitude, and joy in your life--this day and everyday.