BOOM! I woke up to the deep thunder of an explosion in the black of the early morning. A few minutes later, another BOOM! This went on for hours.
For a short time I lived at a ski mountain. When there was a heavy snowfall overnight, the ski patrol would blast areas of the mountain to remove accumulated piles of deep snow that could cause avalanches. Waking up to the sound of muted explosions meant there was going to be lots of fresh powder to ski in.
But avalanche prevention can be dangerous.
One of the intense methods of avalanche blasting is done using “hand-charges.” Let’s say an area about 40 feet below the peak of a slope needs to be blasted. A skilled ski patrol team will tie an explosive to a cord, light the stick of dynamite, and toss it over the peak so it will land the correct distance down to hit the area they need to blast. After a short delay of about 30 seconds, BOOM! The blast dispurses the build up of accumulated snow.
But what happens when there’s a sudden gust of wind or some other complication and the toss doesn’t go just right?
A ski patroller can find himself tethered to live dynamite!
One told me the scary story of a time when he was a novice that the cord got caught around his boot.
He reacted like you or I probably would – in sheer panic. As the seconds until the explosion raced by, he grabbed and clawed at the string trying to get it off of his boot. But in flailing his limbs he entangled himself even more.
A veteran patroller then came to his aid. Calmly the man continued the countdown until the explosion, as he slowly and gently began untangling the rope from around my friend’s leg.
Once freed, he tossed the explosive over the mountain. BOOM! The blast occurred at a safe distance while my friend’s heart continued to pound.
There are so many analogies about the importance of slowing down.
- Race car drivers talk about slowing down to go faster. Sometimes entering a turn more slowly allows them to come out of it faster, maintaining more momentum overall.
- Wise teachers advise that before we start climbing the career ladder we should make sure that ladder is leaned up against the wall we want to end up on the top of.
- And there’s a tale about two people chopping trees. The one who kept taking breaks finished first. When his surprised buddy asked how that could have happened, he replied that when he took breaks he sharpened his ax.
But when I need to remind myself to slow down, I think about my friend’s ski patrol story because it’s such a vivid scene.
I need startling reminders because I often feel “behind” when I’m not charging forward toward a goal as fast as I can. But behind on what? All too often I get swept up in an arbitrary race, only occasionally to have a glimpse of insight that what I’m actually doing is racing through my life.
Today I’m pondering what arriving at a destination faster will get me and if it’s worth what I give up when I speed through my days.
What about you? Are there any aspects of your life you are rushing through? Could slowing down help you be more effective or enhance your quality of life? I’m curious to hear from you if you’re willing to share.
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