Why do we tell stories? Your mother told you bedtime stories before you could read. Then you started reading the fantasies and fables of the past and the living. And now you are telling the stories of your own, some true and some not, some sad and some funny – and quite a few of them probably exaggerated after a few beers. But why are we surrounded by stories? Because they are central to human existence. The whole idea of cultural evolution is based on story-telling. It is the symbiotic relationship between the teller and the listener – the exchange of information.
Humans are experts in visual pattern-recognition. It was vital to our survival – spotting the jaguar in the woods or finding that edible fruit amongst the poisonous ones. But our impulse to find patterns isn’t limited to real objects. In fact, that’s exactly what stories are: patterns in information. That is our way to make sense of world, of the things happening around us. It is the signal in the noise and it is what gives us meaning. In a wider sense, myths & religions (and one could argue that later science too) have always provided us with narratives explaining us the current state of affairs. But in a narrower sense, we do this by ourselves to ourselves all the time. We want to see patterns – stories – in our lives. It is the human need to see meaning in the seemingly random details. We want to be able to say that everything happened for a reason.
In our lives, we are the protagonist – the main character. According to Wikipedia page, a protagonist is ”is a narrative’s central or primary personal figure, who comes into conflict with an opposing major character or force (called the antagonist).” But if you are white caucasian male born in Finland, hardships are relatively seldom. If we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the basic needs in our society are more or less handed out to: food, shelter, safety. There is no struggle for survival.
I’m not saying that only way to live a life fulfilled, is to return to the call of the wild. But having to fight for nothing, can be exactly as demeaning and bad as having to fight for everything – or even worse. While our society does a lot to provide basic needs for everyone, it does little for the rest of the pyramid. Giving everyone a sense of belonging, making them respect themselves and most importantly allowing them opportunities for self-actualisation is nearly non-existent. A lot of people are unsatisfied with their lives in western societies, some of them are content – but how many are actually grateful and happy?
I think a lot of the problems in our society rise from this imbalance. A lot of people seek money and fame, in search of respect from others. We work our asses of in 9-to-5 jobs we hate. We buy things to define ourselves. However, no amount of glory or materia can fulfil a human being before they are accept who they are internally.
We also are jealous of others. Maybe because they are prettier, more intelligent or richer than we are. We feel undermined among our peers. But that is ridiculous way of thinking. In your first years of life, you learned to walk, talk and read. In other words, you are a genius – a potential just waiting to be fulfilled. But somewhere along the line, we lost this curiosity and ability to learn. We laid of our progress. We gave up the way to self-actualisation. We shouldn’t do that: what a man can be, he must be.
There is no ”one right way” to accomplish this. Everyone has their own route. For a lot of the people, the mountains have been the antagonist. Considered mythical and sacred in every culture around the world, they are truly magical. You go to the mountains and you give something to them. But they also give something back to you: you come back as a different person.
For me personally this winter, the mountains have given everything. A story of a tiny human being called Niklas was told on the glorious mountains of Tirol. The people I have met have turned into friends and memories for a lifetime – thus giving me a a sense of belonging. By riding down mountains I once thought impossible I’ve won myself and gained self-esteem. From the spiritual dimensions of the nature surrounding, respecting every thing living and non-living, I’ve found my self as a part of the eternal.
And the best part is that, you don’t have to be always be out there, sweating and fearing for your life on a climb, or screaming in boyish zeal after that perfect powder. You take all those feelings back with you. And then maybe you realize it, that there really is no mundane reality. That every single moment is transcendental if you just look close enough.
And that’s why I ski.
P.S. Skiing is awesome because you can set yourself goals, to do something you never thought possible.
And you sit there scared our of your pants before dropping down, but it’s okey, because the other side of fear is excitement.
And you need to be able to focus 100% on the moment, because if you would fall, there is an 300 meter cliff drop below you (Hi, Mom!).
And you then you stop to think ”why the hell am I doing this” or ”how the hell I’m going to get down”?
A rope helps sometimes!
And after you survived down, you can not help but to smile.
Even though it sometimes is really hard to grasp that you really came down from there.
Skiing is awesome, because waking up at 4 o’clock is totally okey when you get to enjoy scenery like this.
And then you are already back for lunch in Innsbruck – where it is +25 degrees!
Skiing is awesome because sometimes it really isn’t skiing.
And you really start to wonder: why am I doing this again?
But it is okey, because you might find a nice tree house to have a little Jausen or get to ski powder in May.
Skiing is awesome, because it makes you walk into the unknown, even when its rainy, muddy and cold – unpleasant in every way.
Skiing is awesome, because after a long day, there is always the warm embrace of a cottage and your friends waiting.
Skiing is awesome, because you can hang out on a glacier without a t-shirt.
Skiing is awesome, because there is much more to it than just the skiing. You have to know and learn about your surroundings, the snow and the mountains.
Skiing is awesome, because even then when it doesn’t make any sense and is absolutely horrible, it’s still fun at the end of the day.
Skiing is awesome, because you get to rescue your friends from scary crevasses thirty meters deep.
Skiing is awesome, because there really isnt a better thing than to enjoy the view after a long hike (and enjoy a Gipfelradler)
…and watch your friends trying to run and rescue their fallen rucksack.
Skiing is awesome, because you get to use ice-axes which totally make you look like a bad-ass. Manly man stuff, Arr.
Skiing is awesome, because you get to use your engineering skills after your binding breaks.
Skiing is awesome, because you get to hang out in magical places like this.
Skiing is awesome, because your friends will take photos of you and you can pretend to yourself that you are the greatest skier ever (thanks Juhis and Jani for the pictures!).
Skiing is awesome, because you can spot the mountains from your kitchen window every morning. And then go ski them.
Skiing is awesome, because… – well, just look at the scenery and decide yourself.