Experience shades expectations

It has not exactly been a year when cross country, or back country for that matter, skiers could pick and choose their time and place for recreation. In fact, by this time last year enough snow had fallen in the Curry County area for a number of skiing outings, but this year, even a trip to the mountains has had only a percentage chance of working out.

It was therefore with a mixture of excitement and dread that I heard my wife, as if from afar, urge me to go up to Red River — or more to the point, to Enchanted Forest — for a long day on Saturday.

The words are, in New Mexico, akin to inviting a tennis fan to go play on Wimbledon Courts, or a golfer to tee off on a PGA course. I would have the same response if someone invited me to go snorkeling in Belize. Well, actually, that would be over the top.

Why the dread, then ? Well, what if it doesn’t work out-if there is no snow up there ? We are deep into February, and if the preceding few months are any hint of the rest of the winter, there will not be many more chances.

What if, even worse, the reality doesn’t live up to the expectations? That is what I really want to address in this column; there are times and places in our lives when the actual experience does not match what we imagined it would be.

Like the Platonic ideal, our imagined prediction of the event, the place, or even the person is not met by the reality.

Perhaps it is our fault; perhaps we, as adults, need to adjust our expectations back into line with what can actually occur. Perhaps, as illustrated by the Enchanted Forest trip, we need to realize that a great deal of what happens depends on us, on our effort, on our willingness to open up and make the most of it.

My granddaughter is a good example. She has just returned from seeing the Justin Bieber movie, and since she knew ahead of time that, whatever happened, it would be great- well, it was great. She had no idealized version, beyond the chance to spend a couple of hours watching a movie about her hero-no doubt, surrounded by a bunch of other screaming 6-year-olds.

Only in our teenage years should we be granted the folly of believing in, as Jay and The Americans sang, “this magic moment” that “will last forever, til the end of time.” Once we’ve entered adult hood, we should come to terms with the fact that everything has its limitations- the day in Enchanted Forest will end, and someday- yes, someday the body will be old and one won’t even want to go cross country skiing anymore. Maybe.

It’s a new angle on an old maxim, “Live for the moment.” It’s also a new angle on the old concept of not allowing oneself to miss a chance, then having to regret what one did not do. As they say in the theatre business, “Break a leg.” Wait-maybe that’s not the appropriate sendoff with which to head to Red River.