This I Believe

robert - san luis obispo, California
Entered on January 28, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: carpe diem
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Snow fell softly to the ground as we gathered at the bottom of the ski slope. The clouds blocked the light from moon and stars; the additional darkness would be to our advantage. We had been here before, normally in the light of day with our ski equipment and grins on our faces. This time was different. We had a tugboat. Ordinarily a tugboat-shaped sandbox might have seemed out of place, but tonight Mr. Tuggy was part of our plan.

The journey up the hill was finished and, exhausted from the assent, we surveyed the steep slope before us. To our left, a line of trees; to our right, a freestyle mogul course complete with jumps. The bottom, an important destination for stopping purposes, was littered with obstacles: rope tow cables, a conveyer belt carpet, ski lift supports, and the solid wall of the ski lodge. Undaunted, we climbed aboard Mr. Tuggy and prepared for the ride. We pushed off and started down the hill. Trees and moguls were flying past, our speed ever increasing. Then, all of a sudden, Mr. Tuggy veered off to the left, towards the trees!

“BAIL! BAIL!” Leaping out head first, I landed gracefully on my belly. All I could see was white; the only thing I understood was the cessation of motion. I cleared the snow off my face to discover what had become of my companions: sprawled out across the slope were five other bodies and what appeared to be someone’s jacket and shoe. Alive, unhurt, and covered in snow, we sat there and the silence of the mountain was broken with our laughter.

What makes life interesting? Obviously, adventures in a tugboat help, but what about the rest of life? Predictability can be comforting: it helps us feel in control of our lives. However, the moments upon which we base our stories, those that are the clearest in our memory, are usually in the realm of the unpredictable. The plan evolving Mr. Tuggy was a string of impulsive events, a mixture of both good and bad that ultimately concluded on a good note. However, the conclusion to Mr. Tuggy was not important. The fact is that the Mr. Tuggy episode would have affected me, no matter what the outcome. How I live my life today was changed—maybe in the minutest of ways, perhaps hardly noticeable, but still altered. Unpredictable events shape our personalities and lend us individuality apart from our genetic code.

Life can seem like an endless string of meaningless situations—interesting and unpredictable moments break the monotony and remind us of what makes existence remarkable. The hypothetical life that contains no surprises may sometimes seem idyllic in that it is easy to plan for the future, but it is the unpredictable life that is rich with character. If life is a road, it is one which twists—sometimes it takes a turn for the better, sometimes for the worse. What is important is the turn itself.