VIEW: Ski Bum

Sometimes I wish I were a ski bum.

The name, on the surface, implies two contrasting ideas.

“Ski” brings to mind images of athletes exploring nature in dangerous and sophisticated ways.

“Bum” makes one think “lazy,” “good-for-nothing,” maybe a lover of junkfood or MMORPGs — basically the all around loser to those tied down to the conventional way of perceiving things.

So how does “ski bum” represent each idea while creating something new in combined form?

In the most badass way you can imagine, that’s how.

A ski bum’s day begins with waking up to the sunlight pouring in beneath the window shades. There’s somewhere the bum must be today, but there is plenty of time to get there, and no sense in stressing about anything other than this moment.

After a well-enjoyed breakfast, the bum and the bum’s roommates disperse to work or to the nearest ski lodge, to which the bum has a season lift pass.

Work may include employment at the slopes, manning the lifts, giving lessons or patrolling the double black diamonds for any stranded skiers in need of a ride down the mountain.

When the slopes aren’t hiring, jobs working outdoors or delivering pizza are available, and the bum can earn money this way while remaining free of stress to distract from the wonder of this moment.

After work — or before, if work involves the night shift — the bum follows the shadows of the slopes to the foot of the hill, snaps on skis or snowboard and sips tea from a collapsable thermos while the lift floats by every inch of trail to be made back on the way down.

The view from the top is a view the bum enjoys every day. It’s a view that doesn’t assume an interest in comparing itself with any others; it’s just there — like how the bum is just there, too.

It’s the thing that is, right now in this moment.

For the ski bum, this moment lasts all day, even hours after the lifts have been switched off for the night and the moon remains the only one keeping the summit company.

In the morning, the ski bums will again migrate to their well-deserved perches in reality — flashing between blending into society and standing out in nature, now as always, in this moment. Under the noses of our very own government, ski bums have become kings and queens of their boundaryless realms.

I cannot in this moment consider myself among their ranks, but maybe someday I will.

All I know is that if the moment should come when the answer is yes, it will feel like this moment, right now, when it is.

Will Beaton is the editor-in-chief of The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].