“If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.”
I don’t really ski anymore. I haven’t skied in probably more than seven years. The fact that I had to spend about 10 minutes considering how long it’s actually been since I can remember skiing means it might actually be longer than that.
Yet Warren Miller, is, and always has been an inspiration to me. And while I’m sad that he’s gone, it’s hard to feel bad for a man who seemed to live life to its utmost, created ski videos that have no peer, and spent the vast majority of his time chasing powder and shredding the slopes in some of the world’s most beautiful and fun places.
R.I.P(owder) Warren Miller. Here’s what you mean to me.
My parents put me on skis when I was four years old. I grew up in Golden, CO, a mere hour away from some of the greatest skiing in the entire world, so of course they did. And this was back before Colorado was cool, so you could actually get to Vail on a Saturday morning in an hour.
I cried before my lessons every single time until I was about six for reasons I can no longer remember. But as soon as I got on the slopes, I took to skiing immediately. It just made sense to me, and helped me when I taught myself to roller skate on the back patio of my house when I was seven. As I got older, my parents enrolled me in Buffalo Ski Club, Eskimo Ski Club, and Copper Choppers until I was old enough to drive. Once I could drive, I took my mom’s Jeep up to Winter Park, Copper Mountain, and Arapahoe Basin with friends pretty much every weekend. Brett, Carson, Thatcher, Fred, Keith and whoever else wanted to join just flipped me some gas money, and off we went. Season passes to Winter Park back in the day cost about $100.
Between the ages of 10 and 18, I probably skied more than most Colorado transplants still have skied in their entire lives. I’m confident if I got out there tomorrow, I could still tear it up. And while part of me misses it, there’s a larger part of me that still has too fucking much to do where dropping hundreds of dollars to get up early on the weekends, brave the hideous mountain traffic, exhaust my body, and sit in yet more traffic doesn’t exactly sound appealing.
In my 20s, I spent my spare time creating and executing the Cru Jones Society on top of a fairly demanding 40 hour a week day job. In my 30s, I did public relations for a Fortune 500 company that put me on the road, saw me attending galas and shit on the weekend, start a family, and dedicate whatever spare time I had to building an award-winning podcast.
And I did all that because Warren Miller told me to.
The lead quote of this article is one that I live my life by. A related quote whose real attribution I don’t know, but that I first heard in that Alec Baldwin/Anthony Hopkins/David Mamet/giant scary bear movie The Edge, is “A good plan today is better than the perfect plan tomorrow.” Tomorrow is promised to no one, so get off your ass and do what you want to do. Make it happen.
I run my own business, I create content I’m proud of, I’ve got an absolutely superlative wife and two incredible children. I am living the life I always wanted. And that Warren Miller quote is one I think about often. I may be wrong here, but I’m reasonably certain he said it in every one of his movies.
I first saw a Warren Miller movie when I was about 16 at the Arvada Center. My friend Fred and I went, and it was thrilling. Beautifully shot, exquisitely soundtracked*, and thoroughly inspiring. Two close family friends used to work for Warren Miller, one of whom told me he cut a deal with the Encore Network, which seems to show one of these movies on any given day allowing me to get my ski fix vicariously from the comfort of my own home.
*A quick digression about the music used in Warren Miller movies. I challenge you to find any other media entity (with the exception of maybe Quentin Tarantino) that incorporates music more flawlessly than Warren Miller. Watch any scene, even out of context, and tell me you can pick a better song that captures the essence of that particular moment better. It’s impossible. The sensibility is perfect, and, unbelievably, not beholden to any genre. A mix of well-known favorites intermingles with obscurities that dances between hip hop, chugga-chugga punk rock, classic rock, ambient techno, thudding house music and classical. It’s probably the most underrated aspect of Warren Miller’s filmmaking, but I’d argue is indispensable to the overall product.
And while I have Warren Miler to thank for the quote that guides my life in a very real way and inspires my success, thinking about him means I also think frequently about the fact that I don’t ski anymore. And as Warren always said, “The worst day skiing is still better than the best day doing almost anything else.”
So, as the ultimate tribute to Warren Miller, for the first time in what feels like forever, I’m going to step into my boots, snap into my bindings, and hit the slopes. I don’t know when, but it’ll be soon. Why?
Because if I don’t do it this year, I’ll be one year older when I do.