I don’t ski.
Once we moved our whole family to the mountains in France so we could ski all the time – Mr B is an avid snowboarder.
That first weekend we booked a private lesson for my eldest daughter and me and within 45 minutes I was weeping/swearing/begging to be allowed to go home.
I staggered off the slopes, with my tears freezing onto my cheeks leaving my daughter zig sagging happily down the mountains.
Followed by numerous weekends of getting children into salapettes, then them needing a wee, then getting them up the slopes only to be greeted with ‘I’m hungry’. They all had a blast. It was not my cup of tea at all.
We soon moved back to England.
Two years my husband did the thing I have admired about him the most ever, and drove all the kids (aged 6, 8 and 10 at that time, and a 12 hour drive) to the French mountains for a week of skiing.
Leaving me to luxurious lie ins, nights out with friends without a care in the world about hangovers and relaxing spa visits.
They came back full of stories of a wonderful chalet, rosy cheeked videos of the kids whizzing down mountains every lovely hot meal being provided for them, a nanny on tap for when anyone ‘had too many blisters to go back out again’, a hot tub, lovely people to hang out with and cake on the table every time they came back in from the slopes.
It sounded pretty nice actually and I could picture myself coming along with them next time – mainly for the nanny and cake experience.
Anyway this week, I agreed I would join the family on a skiing holiday.
After a pretty hellish two days in the car, we arrived here in Avoriaz in the mountains.
But this time there’s no chalet. We’ve decided to plump for a functional apartment instead.
There’s one tiny room that does for a lounge, kitchen, eating area and bedroom for one, and then two other extremely basic rooms. They have beds – that’s it. And for some reason a strangely high number of bathrooms (3).
The carpet’s pretty grim, the furniture’s all scratched up and worst of all the fridge door is broken so you can’t stand a bottle of wine upright in the fridge (thank God for a below-zero balcony).
There’s no nanny, there’s no cake, there are no hot meals and there is no hot tub.
A very first world problem to have, I’m aware, but still….
And this morning I found myself wondering: “I wonder if I’d be having a better time if I had a huge chalet with a roaring fire, and someone making me huge mugs of hot chocolate and passing them to me as I sat in front of it, having just come out of the hot tub and asking me what I’d like for dinner.”
You know, that feeling you get when you step into a luxury hotel or a luxurious spa?
Surely I’d be happier with that experience over this one?
What about the Principles, though?
What about that revolutionary truth they point to: that our experiences don’t come from our circumstances?
Could I have discovered the one situation where they don’t apply?
Out of everything in the whole wide world, that ski accommodation should be the exception?
And then I saw that, a moment before when I had NOT been thinking about this alternative luxury mythical ski chalet, I had been enjoying my holiday just fine.
I was in a pretty good mood after a good night’s sleep, thinking about the stash of Easter Eggs we still had to tuck into for breakfast and seeing the first snow flakes fall out of the sky for over a year.
I was actually just in the bathroom brushing my teeth when the ‘I wonder if (insert alternative situation in which I would be happier) popped into my head and ruined my morning for a few minutes.
But for my thinking I could/should be somewhere else in that moment, I was just fine.
I have some friends who are (I imagine) going to a pretty posh ski resort this Easter. If you looked at us both on the ‘happiness’ scale at any point during that week, my guess is you’d see my scores go up and down over the week; and likewise theirs.
And the quality of our ski accommodation has got f*ck all to do with them.
Does that mean I won’t ever choose to go stay somewhere luxurious again in the future? I don’t think so. (I’m booked into the spa tomorrow :))
But how wonderful to know it’s just because I can and not because I need to, in order to have a good time.
Just to make that clear, in case you missed it, the Principles even apply to ski chalets.
Our circumstances have no bearing on our ability to experience peace of mind, joy and well-being.
Even in those situations where you’d swear it would.