Friday, March 27, 2009


My wife tells me that I rarely smile. She says that some of our co-workers say the same thing about me.

However, on the weekends, when I'm teaching skiing, my wife says that I am smiling every time she sees me. A coach who has been a tremendous mentor to me calls me "Smiley" all the time when we're at the mountain.

I do love skiing, I love skiing with little kids, and I feel very free and relaxed when I'm on the mountain with my students. But, what about the rest of the time?

Last night, I ran 12 miles after work, and I spent the whole run thinking about smiling. I wasn't smiling while I was running, just thinking about it.

Despite fighting depression, which I've mentioned before, I think I'm a fairly happy person overall. My depression is fairly well controlled, but I'm not over-medicated to the point of being ebulliently happy all the time, if such a thing is even possible.

Last night, while running, I was having fun. I was tired from my workouts earlier in the week, and I worked hard to maintain a decent pace through the run. It was work, but it was fun. As I saw other runners out there, I was wondering how many people go out for double-digit mileage runs mid-week, except serious marathoners and us crazy ultra-runners.

But, despite the fact that it was fun, I wasn't smiling. I went out to dinner after my run, and three people from another state were talking loudly. One of the three tried to pick up 3 different females in the time it took me to eat dinner. Each of the three people from out of state was talking about how wonderful it is to visit Vermont, but the people are "backward" and "uneducated" and there are no good jobs here. Their uninformed prejudice probably should have made me laugh. Instead, it made me angry. Despite having some good food to enjoy after my run, I wasn't smiling.

David Burns, in his book about cognitive behavior theory, claims that no one else can make us angry. It is only our own individual reactions to others' behaviors that can make us angry.

Maybe I should spend more time focusing on those things that make me happy, and a lot more time ignoring the things that don't make me happy and that I can't control.

Despite all the books I've read about Buddhism in my life, I think I have a long way to go before I can let go of so many things. If I did that, maybe I'd smile more.

One place that my wife doesn't see me, but where I do smile a lot is when I'm running an ultra in a beautiful location. I think I smiled for most of Hardrock and most of Wasatch, just struck by the beauty of the courses. I smile when I'm on the VT100 course too. I smiled for a lot of WS, at least until my race fell apart, a few years ago. Maybe I just need to run and ski and get rid of working for a living. Of course, if I did that, my wife would never smile again.


Patrick said...

I hear you. I smile in the shop, in the woods and when i am running. early retirement can't get here soon enough. When i am 55 i plan on either starting my own furniture shop or become a ski patroler...or both. I just need a little money coming in until the retirement benifits start up! Until then it is all about zen meditation :-)

Anonymous said...

You are not alone in your thinking...the last paragraph says it all!