As high as we were on Race Day at SFL, with the national anthems ceremony, the thrill of crossing the finish line after skiing our hearts out, the leisurely skiing afterward, the awards banquet, the dance and the parties, we were just as low on the following day, Sunday. The first bus back to the airport often left at 5:00 in the morning, which meant schlepping ski bags and luggage around in the middle of the night, sad goodbyes over a quick cup of coffee in the subdued morning melancholy. Then came the arduous trip home, which involved a bus ride and up to 3 flights and 2 layovers and dealing with unenlightened airport personnel. The difference between the SFL world and the real world was evident the moment we entered the airport. People in the real world dont speak to each other in an elevator. People in the real world dont offer assistance to a blind person in a strange restroom. They stand and stare. People in the real world assume you cant do stairs or an escalator. People in the real world cannot imagine the respect, the laughter, the kinship we shared as an SFL family.
After my first SFL, I went back to work the very next day. By noon, I had to go home sick. Not only was I exhausted, but I was sick at heart. It was the classic back to the real world syndrome. Each year after that, I included the Monday after SFL as part of my vacation days. I needed to decompress.
3 years later, I was able to put into words what I felt at SFL in a poem. Here it is.
WHAT IS THE LIGHT IN SKI FOR LIGHT
Ski for Light is a state of mind,
A slice of time out of the context of life,
A transcendental world of timeless relationships
That begin and end in the space of a week,
Yet last for a lifetime of Ski for Light weeks,
Where everyone accepts me as I am,
And everyone expects to be my friend,
To help me find my strengths,
To help me say “I can,”
To mirror my smile and extended hand,
To share my zeal for life and all that it can offer,
To taste the sweetness of trying and doing,
To sip from the common cup of conquered fear,
And toast the glory of freedom,
To celebrate my triumphs,
To teach me how to laugh again,
To heal my wounds of frustration and doubt,
To strengthen my sense of self,
To light the flame of independence,
And fan that flame each time I think of Ski for Light,
And like the flame of the Olympic torch,
It keeps alight throughout the year,
So I bring it with me when I return,
And proffer it to someone new,
Someone like you
Who needs to ski for light.