“When we ski the trees, the trick is to focus on the spaces between, not the trees themselves. The lines we choose are defined by our fears and our confidences, and when these are out of balance, when our fears outnumber our confidences, we lose the ability to find the spaces between the trees. We lose our rhythm. This goes for life, too.
My wife has anorexia. She’s struggled with this all her life, but recently – to keep the analogy rolling – she smacked into the trees. She’s struggling to find the spaces between. As her partner, I’ve struggled to keep her moving through the forest. At times, I’ve guided her into trees too dense for her to navigate. What appears to me as an open glade of old-growth aspen, to her is a tangled mess of icy deadfall.
But I must keep my partner from becoming lost completely. I’m responsible for her safety, and she for mine. I can point out the spaces, but I can’t expect her to ski them as I would.
Rhythm, when skiing the trees, is as important as finding the spaces between. The two are interlinked; one cannot exist without the other. At speed, it’s easy to decide which way to go, which space to pass by and which to pass through. With each turn is another decision in a rhythm that repeats itself over and over again; turn after turn, flowing from space to space. I struggle mightily to find good lines these days. Skiing much too slowly to find any rhythm, I’m forced to stop short – to hunt for a new space in woods that only seem to grow more dense.
Skiing the trees, there are no guarantees, no timelines: only expectations. It’s not certain; I only expect my partner and I will find our rhythm again, and we’ll flow from space to space as easily as we once did. Momentum is everything. We’ll gain momentum, and though it doesn’t always lead to the spaces between, stopping leaves us no choice but to stare at the trees”.
- James Foukes, Backcountry Magazine