Thursday, September 4, 2008

Windswept Whistler

The view from the Callaghan Valley (a.k.a. the Whistler Olympic Venue) from a stormier, snowier, time.

At training camp, life gets pared down to the elemental. Stressing the body, fueling the body, and letting the body recover become more than paramount. This training-inspired trifecta dictates the ebb and flow of my day the way current affect a coastal doryman’s.

Conversation, television series reruns on dvd, afternoon strolls through Whistler’s Upper Village and a few lines from a book fill the ether. These days Windblown World rests on my bedside table. The book is a collection of Jack Kerouac’s notebooks and journals he kept from 1947 to 1954, a time when thoughts like, “Beyond the glittery streets was darkness and beyond the darkness the West. I had to go,” were fermenting away, preparing one for his creative explosions.

Today I find comfort with the thought Kerouac’s first works were not On the Road or Dharma Bums or The Subterraneans. Rather he had a few fits and starts, even a couple finished-but-unpublished manuscripts in the family filing cabinet in Lowell, Mass. before a publisher took in The Town and the City. Even then, Kerouac would write “I do not have much opportunity to pout, and now I realize this: -- I had to fight to write Town and City, so I’ll have to fight to sell it.”

It’s a sentiment I at times share with skiing. Through a workout, a week or months sometimes I feel as if I’m in a bare-knuckled brawler. Finesse and footwork and strategy have led me to where they can. Now it’s up to endurance, aggression and a granite chin, or better yet, a granite mind to lead; to lead me where I need to get.

The Sirens along my Olympic Odyssey have been calling. As a twenty-eight year old endurance biased athlete I am now neither young nor old. The sirens of civilian employment, of mortgages and settling down with a hot little number, have not yet begun to call my name. Still, I will never, ever again be called a rube, a talent, a brightly burning star with nothing but my future ahead of me.

The details of my career I aspire towards, but as of not yet reached, drive me, inspire me, torment me. It is why I am in British Columbia, getting intimately familiar with the Whistler 2010 ski trails that wind through the wilderness.

It is the Sirens of the XXI Olympiad that I hear calling. From today on, I have five hundred odd days to prepare. The Sirens are saying, “Get ready for your beautiful moment. It’s coming.”

Maybe this is like when Kerouac said, “Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life."

And to think, all this from a man who found happiness living off ice cream and apple pie in middle-of-nowhere diners.

The Apple Pie and Ice Cream found out, along the road. In Stockholm, Sweden exactly.