Once upon a time, in college, I took a semester off to be a ski bum. My buddy Rick and I shoved all of our stuff into his little Toyota, fastened a cheap ski rack onto the roof, loaded our skis on the rack, and said they looked cool, and we took off on the road trip of our lives from Rhode Island to Utah. (With a two-day stop on I-70 to ski at Copper and Vail.)
We got jobs at Alta, Utah, high up in the Wasatch Mountains at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Little Cottonwood Canyon features one of the most remarkable micro-climates anywhere, creating conditions for the most incredible and deepest snow not only in the entire Rocky Mountain west but just about anywhere on the planet. Alta is known as the best powder skiing destination in North America, and some seasons, the best powder skiing destination in the world.
We worked at The Goldminer’s Daughter, a lodge right at Alta’s base, as close to the lifts as you could get. Employees got room, board, a season pass, some pay, and ski time every day. If you wanted to ski bum, it was a really great deal. The best anywhere. For two east coast ice skiers like us, it actually felt like we were living in a dream every day.
That winter of ski bumming at Alta, a relatively short adventure in the time span of life, changed the course of my life. After returning east, I never lost my desire to return to the Wasatch Mountains, but this time, to stay. The dream stayed kindled, even as the winds of life rushed forward through many years and chapters–marriage, kids, jobs, failures, re-starts, victories, all of it, the whole beautiful, difficult, exhilarating, and exhausting mess of life–sometimes threatened to extinguish the idea altogether.
But then, one summer, my wife Loren and I started making trips to Utah from our home in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. I called them “scouting trips.” It turned out she felt the same way about these special mountains as I’d felt when I first arrived here for that ski bum winter. With each foray, each exploration, each scouting trip, we nudged our minds and hearts closer to the idea of actually moving, of uprooting our now-established life in New England, and just doing it, just taking the adventurous route.
One day, while I was still running the pros and cons through my head, a close work colleague said something that reverberates: “If you’re going to make the move, do it now. If you wait five years, you might not be able to. Things change.”
Interestingly, his insight further amplified what had become my “Utah Song” during those days of deliberation, James Taylor’s Today Today Today.
Today, today, today, I’m finally on my way…
But with one big caveat. Loren and I had not yet committed to the move.
And then, we just did. In November 2019, we loaded the car and headed west to an apartment near the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon, and started fresh, like newlyweds.
Looking back, the time to take action truly was “Today, today, today.” One year after we arrived and began our new high elevation adventure, almost to the day, Loren was diagnosed with breast cancer. What followed was definitely not what we had planned for our long-dreamed-of life in the Wasatch Mountains. But you know what? We made it to the Wasatch Mountains! And as I look out at those mountains this evening, I know this: Every day we spent together here, high up where we set out to be, we had today, today, today. And for every one of us, isn’t that all we really have, anyway?
“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” For the first time, it strikes me that those timeless words of Jesus are another way of saying, “Today, today, today!”
What are you waiting for?