The spring of my discontent. Perisher, NSW, Australia. 2010

Last Saturday I was out skiing with my wife and friends on what was a beautiful day. I thought to myself, “it just doesn’t get much better than this”. The sun was shining and it had snowed the night before. In short, it was a perfect spring day to go skiing.

With such good conditions, it surprised me to notice that I was in a very bad mood.

At first I couldn’t put my finger on why. My wife, Engogirl picked up on my dark mood and asked me if there was something the matter. I said that for some reason, everything was bugging me and that it wasn’t anybody’s fault and that it was just a strange head space I was in at the time.

I was going to try and work things out in my own mind.

Since I hate the whole resort thing with the crowded ski lifts, the waiting in line while strangers ski over my skis and trash them, I go back-country skiing with telemark skis.

I’ve been skiing for years but I’ve never really learnt how to ski properly. Skis are basically long snow shoes for me. My balance is crap plus I have the added disadvantage that I’m not keen on falling at speed which means I dread going down hill. For someone who can’t ski well, I’ve done a lot of back country skiing and snow camping, but the deal for me is that skiing is a means to an end. I just like being out in the bush away from the crowds.

I know that for some people skiing is all about the physical activity and developing the skill. Not for me though, I simply don’t have the aptitude or the desire to get good at it. Generally I just like to get out and be in nature.

So why was I so pissed off on Saturday?

Maybe it was because my old leather ski boots (over 15 years old) had finally bitten the dust and all the new telemark boots are plastic, which I find anathema. I rented some older leather boots for the weekend and as I plodded along, thinking dark cranky thoughts, I felt a blister growing on my heel.

Then there was the cross-country ski instructor who made a point of skiing right up to my wife, and stopping to block her way to show his distain for our group.

What a wanker!

As the day wore on and the temperature rose, the snow became stickier and began to ball up under the my skis but the snow in the shady areas had turned to ice. The skiing experience was like a mixture of trying glide across fly paper and slipping on a banana skin. I was in a constant jerky state of almost falling over for most of the day. So very unaesthetic.

In summary, I was having a John Howard (our ex prime minister) of a day. Short and bloody irritating!

As each thing annoyed me I started to think about how I wanted things to go better than they were, on such a nice day and in such good company, then it struck me why I was having such a bad day.

I had broken with my usual habit of having low expectations!

The good company, beautiful day and surroundings had lulled me into thinking that I was going to have a great day and every thing was going to go smoothly. But as the day progressed all the little niggles added up to a general feeling of incoherent discontent that grew into a smouldering rage.

I should’ve remembered old Seneca’s warnings about how fortune’s favours never last and how we shouldn’t get our hopes up because that leads to disappointment and then onto unhappiness.

Stupiddy, stuppidy me!

Here’s a few short videos (a total of 24 minutes) by Alain de Botton about Seneca on anger.

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