I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Whistler last weekend, to take in some world class skiing, but I witnessed something that deeply saddened me.
We stayed at a beautiful hotel that was only a steps away from the ski lift. Waking up the first morning was delightful. I was radiating with excitement as we grabbed our tickets and headed to the gondola. It had been about a decade since the last time I have visited Whistler, and I had forgotten just how massive the mountain is. The initial lift that takes to the round-house, which isn’t even the top of mountain, seemed to take 20 minutes. As we stepped out of the gondola and out onto this majestic plateau that made you feel like you were on top of the world. Beauty wasn’t the first thing that captured my attention though. It was the hoards of small groups of people taking selfies and posing for pictures that distracted me. Instead of taking a few moments just to stand and admire the breathtaking beauty that mother nature had so beautiful etched out for us, people were totally consumed with themselves. Debating angles and filters with friends as they posed, daring greatly to capture for even the smallest piece of Instagram glory.
You would have thought that the sickness would have stopped at the top of the mountain- but you would have been dead wrong. As I latched my boots into my skis and began to descend down the hill, the madness seemed to stretch all the entire way down the hill. People stopped midrun, chatting, and taking even more selfies. The professionals seemed to be out that day, because these weren’t just your average selfie takers either. Several of these people holding very expensive stabilizing gimbals for their phones and cameras, as if they were prepared for a day of filming, as the star and director of the show. There was little consideration for people around them. It’s like the mountains, snow, and trees didn’t even matter in comparison to the expressions they were hoping to capture on film. There could have been a grizzly bear strapped into a snowboard, shredding down the hill, and they would have been completely oblivious to it.
Whistler has such a wonderful international feel to it. You would only need to walk around the village for five minutes to see and hear all of the varied languages and races that had made their way there from all corners of the globe. It really makes you feel like you are in a special place. With all the differences in culture coming together in one small resort town, I guess there was a part of me that was hoping that the North American norm of self-absorption couldn’t possibility have filtered its way the lives of all these strangers, could it? Surely the rest of the world were more civilized, and hadn’t forgotten the beauty of being in the moment while in nature.
Evidently, the plague seemed to have unfortunately reached every corner of the globe. I know what you are thinking.”It’s normal for families to take pictures while on holidays”, you might say. And I would totally agree those sentiments, and there were a few families doing just that. Hell, I even stopped and offered to capture one of those beautiful moments for a German family at the bottom of the ski lifts. I leapt at the opportunity, calling out to the father as he attempted to capture his family with his iPhone if he wanted me to take a picture of them all, which he delighted in. It actually made my heart feel warm knowing that I might be able to serve them and contribute to that happy memory in some small way. The temporary restoration of joy and sanity to my conscience was moment of solace for me, after a day of being totally disappointed in humanity.
Now home, I sit outside on the porch drinking a large mug of tea, attempting to scan through my own areas of self-centeredness. I contemplate whether or not I too had somehow unconsciously morphed into one of those people. My introspection is quickly halted as one of the most stunning humming-birds I have ever seen put the world on pause and he flew down to greet me. His wings flapped at what had to have been a thousand times a minute, but he remained completely still in the air, as we shared a brief moment of acknowledgement. I wonder just how many moments this like were missed out on that weekend? Will those people head home from their travels raving all about the picturesque scenery, that most of the world’s population would only get to experience through the pages of National Geographic? My gut tells me otherwise. I would have to bet on that their major concerns for the weekend were whether or not they showcased their own unnatural ‘beauty’.