The death bedtime story

February 27, 2018

Nobody on their deathbed has ever said “I wish I had spent more time at the office”. Chances are you’ve read this somewhere, and the popularity of this quote suggests something to me: there are many people out there who are bored by their job and wish they were doing something else; that’s scary. Until robots replace us, we humans will spend a large part of our life working. Some would argue that this will happen very soon, but I believe that the deathbed meme will keep making rounds on the internet for a while.

I can’t complain much about my work: guiding bike tours, taking photos and writing are all about sharing experiences that make people happy. There are worse jobs. I can also climb a mountain on my lunch ride, or go for a quick ski. But the fact that my wife thinks that I work too much and that I should spend more time doing other things should ring a bell. Maybe I should think of the deathbed story a little more and revisit what we like to call “work-life balance”.

The good news is, I already have a great coach for that. His name is Graham, and I’m lucky to have him as a friend. Most of us are weekend warriors; Graham is a week warrior: he goes on adventures during the week so that he can be with his family on weekends. This guy has it figured out, and he has a good life.

 

Graham the week warrior

Graham the week warrior

 

Graham keeps coming up with fun ideas for micro adventures that involve biking, skiing or running up and down mountains. Most of the time my answer is a variation on the theme of “I would love to come but you know, I have too much work. Have fun!” He shares A LOT of pictures on social media, as if to remind me that I could have been with him, you know, had I not been so busy.

Yet on a recent Tuesday, I finally decided to join him and his usual partner in crime Kate on a ski mountaineering day trip to the Col des Ecandies. I should also add that I am lucky to live in the Swiss Alps… where you can leave home at 8am, go for an adventure in the high mountains and be back by 4pm.

Here’s how my day went:

  • Woke up and had breakfast with my son Ben; prepared ham and cheese sandwiches
  • Dropped Ben off at daycare
  • Met up with Graham and Kate in the valley, drove to Champex-Lac
  • Started skinning up Val d’Arpette in the shade, looking up at the sun drenched peaks
  • Chatted and joked on how it must be nicely warm up there
  • Stopped for pictures
  • Got my left hand very cold, swung my arms like a mad man to get the blood back into my fingers (this trick is supposed to work)
  • Repeated the process four times and finally gave up
  • Kept stopping for pictures
  • Got to the top – in the shade. Ate my ham and cheese sandwiches with my right hand, which got very cold in the process
  • Skied down in a mix of awesome powder and horrible wind blown snow – all in the shade, of course
  • Got back to the car park where we felt the sun on our faces for the first time that day
  • Started feeling my left hand again sometime during the drive back
  • Got home, had a quick nap, then picked up Ben from daycare.
Getting to the Col des Ecandies - in the shade

Getting to the Col des Ecandies – in the shade

Once I was on my skis, I never wondered if it was a good idea to be there rather than in front of a screen. There was nothing outstanding about what we did, but I will remember that day for the rest of my life; not the hours I would have spent crunching numbers on a spreadsheet, emptying a bottomless email inbox or checking my social media feed. And I made my wife happy too for ditching work for a change.

We should all be so lucky to have a Graham in our lives. And if we don’t, then be the Graham.

#bemoregraham

From Graham’s prolific Instagram:

 

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Coming out of the trees

Coming out of the trees

 

Kate with some nice sunny peaks overlooking us

Kate with some nice sunny peaks overlooking us

 

Heading back to the sun

Heading back to the sun

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