Sunday, March 6, 2011

Double Life

It's fun living two lives.

We are leasing a house in Tahoe for the ski season, and so we've been able to spend a lot of time in the mountains, show-shoeing and skiing.

Leasing a house is a great idea. If you want to spend a lot of time someplace, it's a good way to go. It's cheaper and cozier than hotels. And if you can share with others (as we have done, with another couple), the price is even better. And it's not just about the price; it's about spending time with friends, cooking together, shoveling snow together, drinking wine and playing the game of Life with whatever rules you feel like creating.

It's nice to arrive at your travel destination, only to be reminded that you are to reside in a place that already has your clothes in the closet and shampoo in the shower and champagne in the fridge.

The best part for me is the contrast: the Valley vs. the Mountains. City vs. Nature. Dry hills vs. Snowy mountains. Running vs. Skiing. Professor Kate vs. Ski Bunny Kate.
Both/And (not Either/Or).
Speaking of which, I was just talking to a friend on the phone tonight about living the "Both/And" life. She is a woman in her 70s who travels widely, is writing the next of her many books, and who does yoga and windsurfs. She always affirms for me that life is about making a decision to live big, to be free, and to love.

For a long time, I've known at some level that our fundamental choices are to a) live in love, or b) in hate. Now I see that in a broader way: to allow, or to resist. "Living big" is about allowing. It's about saying yes. It's about enjoying the nature of the moment, and about being excited for the future. It's about leaning into freedom.

It's about going to a Bohemian Festival with a group of friends, when you have no idea what you're getting into.
It's about continuing to expand, to grow, no matter your age or condition. My septuagenarian friend just founded a publishing company. I (one and a half years shy of 50) have been learning to ski (as I attest in my last entry).

Flying (or struggling) down a snow-encrusted hill is visceral, symbolic, empowering, expansive.
And there's something about living two lives that is helping to shine a spotlight on the ways in which my "other life" is empowering and expansive--my city life, my snow-less life. For instance, I'm realizing that a corollary to skiing down a hill is standing behind a podium in a class of more than 60 students. Who knows what questions they will ask? How they will respond to a lecture or presentation? It's all about being prepared, then going with the flow.
Through the contrast-lens of my mountain life, I see my Professor Kate life anew. Today, I was especially moved by reading a paper by one of my students who was abandoned by her father. The descriptions of all the pain, followed by the years of mistrusting men, were poignant. But the best part was the ending: her realization that her father is a fallible human being, and she wasn't going to pin her happiness in life on anyone else's actions. She made a choice to open her heart, and love other men.
Yes, I've fallen on the slopes, my skis betraying me and whipping out from under me. Each time I get up and decide to love the mountain (even if I'm temporarily pissed off at it!). See what I mean by the symbolism? We've all been betrayed and betrayers at sometime in our lives. We can focus on the injustice, on the things we "would have done differently", or we can focus on where we're going next.
We can focus on bitterness, or we can love the opportunity to grow.
Last time I fell skiing, I loved the realization I could get back up. That the snow was soft. That the sky was broad and blue. That I was living a "peak experience" as my friend who's in her 70s says she is now in her life.
And I loved knowing that soon I'd pull my gloves from my tired hands and grasp a beer in a bar--an warm indoor world contrasted with the cold outdoors, surrounded by friends who live at least two lives too.
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