I’ve just watched a documentary about extreme winter sports: Warren Miller’s Playground. Skiers cliff diving, half-pipe jumping, snowboarding into trees, parachuting down the north face of Alaskan mountains, etc. Sweet, terrifying athleticism. I am so not extreme. I never caught a wave over eight feet. Whenever I mountain biked in the back country, I hit a tree. I sucked at skateboarding because I was afraid of crashing (most especially down stairs). Two days ago, Gavin and I jumped off the deck into the peaked snow of the backyard, and that was about as extreme as I get anymore.
But I enjoy the thrill of it. The iron burn of your lungs during a sprint. That electric fever when you crouch on your board. The terror of your back tire sliding away as you blitz down a path. It’s not that they’re fearless, of course; fear is part of the momentum, and an element of the reverence.
I’m more prone, in my thirties, to delight in my life. That childlike delight that adolescence is supposed to crush out has been rekindled now and is brighter, I think, than ever. Maybe some part of it is memory—the pleasure of comparison, and past achievement, but another part is simpler still: I am aware of my mortality, as I could not have been in childhood, so living—living!—is a gift.