Throwback Thursday!! This is a play I wrote last year.
These are 2 pages from the middle of the play, which is 10 pages in total. The two main characters are Alfred and Travis, two best friends who are both high school juniors. Travis is an adrenaline junkie who wants to live life to the fullest and not stress about the future. Alfred couldn’t be more of the opposite. He is very academic and studious and just wants to get through his last two years of high school. In this scene, Travis has finally convinced Alfred to come skiing with him one weekend, despite Alfred’s complaint of all the homework they have. They are sitting at the top of the ramps, about to hit them, and Travis starts telling Alfred his feelings about hitting ramps.
Well, Here we are. The top of the drop in. Isn’t it a great feeling? Just looking ahead and seeing a line of ramps waiting to be hit.
Yeah, only if you’re a lunatic. Come on man, I ain’t doing it. Why you gotta mess with gravity?
Come on, you know you gotta do it. Now you may not want to, but as soon as it’s over, you’ll be stoked. Assuming you don’t kill yourself, of course. Flying through the air is an incomparable feeling, kind of like... Well, it’s incomparable. You know you can get seriously hurt, but you do it anyway. Why? You don’t know, but it feels great - and horrible - at the same time. That feeling of weightlessness is priceless. Seeing the lip get closer, then seeing the ground disappear under your board - or skis, then seeing it get closer, and closer, then BAM! As you see that wedge of snow getting closer, and closer, everything in you is fighting to stop, to slow down. Your body says no, your brain says no. everything is asking “WHY?!” But you know you have to do it. And the ground leaves from underneath you. You’re flying! And then you’re not. The feeling at the top of the drop in – that’s the worst part. The feeling in the air and after stomping it, that adrenaline rush, that is what we live for. But as you sit there in the snow you know you’re gonna have to do it at some point. You can’t just sit there forever. The more you put it off the harder it gets. So go – send it! Because you’ll regret not doing it!
Life is like a ramp, Alfred. You just gotta go for it. You can’t sit there and do calculations in your head. You know what happens when you don’t commit to the ramp? You knuckle.
Knuckle? Is this another one of your snowboarding terms?
Yeah. It means you come short of the landing. (slaps one hand down on the other) BAM! That’s no good.
I can’t do this. I just can’t. It makes no sense. No sense at all.
It doesn’t have to, man. It doesn’t have to. Fine, I’ll drop first. Dropping! (exits)
I’m not doing it!!! (follows him)
So Alfred didn’t send the ramp. Then he suddenly remembered he was planning to study math in the lodge
(At the bottom of the run, by the lodge)
That was awesome! Next run dude. You can do it.
Hey, I said I may only do half a day. I have to study math and bio and SAT. This may be fun, but it’s not benefiting me.
Not benefitting you? What do you mean? You gotta learn to chill. To let go, man. Let gravity do all the work. Remember life is as stressful as you want it –
SHUT UP OKAY?!?! I don’t want your philosophy! I just need to get to college and then life will be good, but now – these last years of high school – I gotta work! I don’t care if your ideas are different from mine but I need to get my grades okay? I’m afraid we’re just too different. Maybe you’re the one who needs my advice! Heck, you just point your snowboard at those ramps and send yourself off them like you’re indestructible. You’re not, OK? I’m going to sit here in the lodge and study because I have to!
(Pause. Says, dejectedly) Oh, ok. I’m sorry. I just thought you’d like to have some fun. You can have good grades and still have fun.
Silence. JAMIE walks in.
Hey, Travis. Did you hear? They just opened the mega ramp!
(his mood immediately picks up) Really? Sick! Hey Alfred, I’ll be back later, ok? (exits, almost singing) Ramps! Ramps! Raaaaaaamps!
Alfred sits at a table in the lodge and pulls his AP bio book out of his day pack. Somehow shows passing of time
Then ski patrol enters, talking on a radio.
Hey, we have a teenage boy lying unconscious at the bottom of the mega ramp. It looks like he overshot the landing by quite a lot. He’s not moving. We’re going to need ski patrol there fast.
(immediately gets up) Travis Mueller you crazy idiot! (runs off stage)
“Oh look there’s Hanalei, she’s a snowboarder”. It’s one of the first things anyone will probably know after first meeting me. That’s unusual in a small town with no seasons and at a staggering elevation of –gasp- 300 feet above sea level. A town where I have to explain the meaning of terms like “powder day” and “30 foot kicker”.
“But isn’t Tahoe like, 6 hours away?”(3.5 to be precise)
“So you go up there EVERY weekend?!?! Are you crazy?”(why, yes I am in fact.)
“So how has it been with NO SNOW at all in 2015”(which is not true by the way.)
“Do you do tricks?”(Yeah sure.)
But there’s one question I get from almost everyone who finds out I’m a snowboarder living in a non-ski town in the Bay area. The frequency of this question has got me thinking about why people would ask a question that seems so obvious to me. And I’m also interested in what they think the answer would be. In fact it is not just at home where I get this question, and one day, I was able to help someone out by answering it.
I had qualified for the USA national snowboarding competition in Colorado. I had a few minutes to spare between competitions, so “I took a lap”. I saw a young boy and his dad, and it looked like his dad was teaching him to ride for the first time. He looked very frustrated and it looked like he had given up. I could tell his dad really wanted him to experience the amazing feeling that is snowboarding. On a sunny, perfect day in Colorado no less. Seeing that I had my competitors’ bib that clearly read “national championships 2015”, the dad said,
“Excuse me, you look like a pretty good snowboarder may I ask you something?”
I said yes.
“When you first started riding, did you fall?”
When I first started riding? Are you kidding me? I mean who doesn’t? I was no prodigy. He wanted his son to hear my answer and hopefully be inspired. I answered,
“When I first started? Why, I fell just 10 minutes ago. And yesterday, and the day before. Of course I fell when I first began. In fact, I spend almost the whole day on my behind.”
“see, even good people fall!”
I gave one last piece of advice,
“When you fall, it means you are progressing, and that’s what snowboarding is all about!”
The little boy seemed a little annoyed that he couldn’t just give up because he was tired or hurting, but his dad seemed happy that I had confirmed what he had probably been teaching his kid all day. I left feeling good.
So the question I get all the time is: “So do you fall?” or sometimes, “So do you still fall?”. And I always answer with a decisive “Oh yeah.” Or “You bet I do”, or “Every day man!” And sometimes, the follow up will be, “and does it hurt?” To which I will give another “Oh yeah”.
After you reach a certain level, do you just stop falling? Is staying on your feet a sign you are becoming a better snowboarder?
How do I feel after a day of not falling? I feel like I’ve failed by not failing. How do I feel after an epic fall trying something new that was not bad enough for ski patrol? I feel RAD. In snowboarding, the more epic the fail, the cooler it is. As long as the Gopro is on!
My proudest moment as of now is when I did my first backflip. I didn’t land it. Not at all. In fact, all I really remember is hitting my head really hard and having to ask people watching if I had just done a backflip. The video confirmed. I popped off our hand built backcountry kicker, did 9/10ths of a backflip, caught my toe edge, and faceplanted into the slushy snow. I didn’t land it. And I didn’t give a damn. It was messy and un-stylish. Who cares? Had that been at a competition, my score would have been 0 out of 100. Maybe 1, depending on if the judges felt sorry for me.
One of my most disappointing moments I can remember is the national championships for Slopestyle, where I landed every jump on my feet, doing perfect grabs. But here’s the thing. It was sort of an off day for me, and I had to humble myself and hit the small side of the jumps and do strait airs to avoid being critically injured, like I had seen 4 girls already do. I wanted to take a risk. I wanted to do something crazy, but for my safety that particular day, I backed out. And I remember feeling like the ultimate failure as I exited the course having landed everything. I watched 7 year olds land better lines than me.
I’m no downer. In fact, I consider myself what some would call a glass-half-full sort of person. I believe that people should follow their passions and, excuse my corniness, but “shoot for the stars”. But my life advice would be:
“Never stop failing”
Never. Stop. Failing.