Peter Shelton

Holding On and Letting Go in 2013

Posted in Confessions of a Grandpa, Ski racing, Watch columns by pshelton on December 28, 2012

I resolve to age gracefully. Ha! Show me a 64-year-old man who feels, inside, like a 64-year-old man and I’ll show you a corpse. “Yours sincerely, Wasting Away.”

Speaking of 64, since when did Paul McCartney’s sweet, it’ll-never-happen-to-me vision of old age come true? “Will you still need me, will you still feed me . . . ?”

Our grandkids – no, not “Vera, Chuck and Dave,” but rather Lily, Alex and Boden – deserve more time on their grandparents knees. I therefore resolve to spend as much time as I can with them, even though it means abandoning all pretense at lowering the carbon footprint when it comes to driving miles, gasoline burned up into the atlasphere.

I resolve, reluctantly, maybe even disingenuously, to leave the children alone. Cloe and Cecily are forging their own paths. (They’re married and in their mid-30s, for heaven’s sake.) My parents didn’t follow me around the continent. Neither did Ellen’s. They had their own lives. And so did we. So, why do I want nothing more than to pick up and move to Bend, Ore., or Bishop, Calif., to be near my children and their growing families, especially in the years before the grandkids become surly teenagers, which will never happen, because they are so adorable, and look who their mothers are, perfect daughters who never once – well, there did seem to be that one year (I think it was age 14 for both of them) when they preferred not to speak to their parents . . . But I digress.

I suppose it’s the age-old question of letting go and holding tight. We’re lucky our children and their spouses like us, mostly, and don’t recoil at the notion of having Nana/Bup nearby. If only the Nanny State were sufficiently developed to somehow subsidize Nana/Bup’s pied-à-terres out West so we could be nannies to our precious little ones.

I resolve to be here now. (Sorry, Ram Dass; I am trying.) To appreciate the sun and the little bit of snow on the ground here, and not be constantly beaming myself to Mount Bachelor, with its 115-inch base, or to Mammoth Mountain, with its 150-inch base, and the webcams and daily screen shots of skiers barely recognizable inside powder waves of their own making . . . Oh, heck. See what I mean?

I resolve to not take it personally that I don’t have a season pass at Telluride for the first time since the winter of 1976-77. I understand that the ski area’s owner wants guaranteed payback for his largesse, and I can’t promise him freelance articles featuring Telluride. Even though I have written hundreds of such articles over the decades, in publications ranging from People to Powder to LIFE, from Mountain Gazette to Men’s Journal to Police Product News. Even though I was once ski school director in Telluride. Even though . . . I’m not bitter. Really I’m not.

I resolve to find some middle ground in my work for The Watch. Somewhere in the space between “arbiter of truth and justice for the western world” and “tomorrow’s birdcage liner.” Somewhere not completely irony-free.

I resolve not to fall over the fiscal cliff. It’s a personal choice. Like happiness. Like following your kids around the continent.

I resolve not to buy a Bushmaster AR15, even if it is the last one on the shelf and fate – who knows? – is calling me to be the one armed-to-the-teeth good guy who is going to prevent the next massacre of innocents in Colona.

I resolve to ski (at Powderhorn) like my new hero, Mikaela Shiffrin. Wow. Did you see the video of her two slalom runs under the lights at the World Cup in Åre, Sweden? (Did they run under the lights because it was actually a night slalom, or because that far north, on the solstice, there wasn’t any sun?) Anyway, Shiffrin, who is just 17, won the race with two runs so sublime it makes me weak in the knees just thinking about them. Forget the preternatural maturity it took to quell nerves and summon the muscle memory for 100 perfectly executed carved turns. Where did that touch come from? That exquisitely subtle weighting and unweighting? That eagerness for speed combined with a veteran’s understanding of its limits? The wisdom – or is it art? – of knowing when to hold on and when to let go?

One Response

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  1. Tom Shelton said, on December 28, 2012 at 2:14 am

    Great column, Peter. BTW, the fiscal cliff is a fraud, PURE politicking. You probably already knew this, but it was fun to hear it from the lips of FAYE WILSON, no less, the other day. And a friend of mine got a laugh recently when he suggested the phrase be changed to the Fiscal CURB, since that better describes how close MOST people are to the GUTTER, already. Also, btw, Diana informs me Sir Paul turned 70 this year just past. How did THAT happen, indeed?…One of the things I enjoy about this piece is, that, knowing you as I do, when you use the word “resolve” you mean it…which means these things are all very likely to come true. Happy New Year! xox/t

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