What Do You Know?
Like all uphill landings, it was an unwelcome surprise.
Day one of skiing in Swedish Lapland, and we weren’t quite ready for the chairlift at Riksgränsen. Fixed-grip, bare metal, no lifty to help ease the transition. We pushed forward to get to the line and turned around just in time for ‘oh shit’ and BANG!
We were suddenly and decidedly seated.
The top was similar, in that what we needed to realize came into focus just a hair too late. You know those moments when you see what you should have done right as the bad thing is already happening? Yeah.
Slight uphill dismount, Jeff’s let briefly gets jammed between the hard edge of the chair and the hardpack, but manages to stay upright, while I get tangled in his flailing arm, crash and duck the still-going-at-full-speed chair just in time.
We shuffle ourselves out of the way quickly. His calf bruised, our pride definitely bruised.
The host of our hotel happened to get off right behind us, having had a front-row view. The good-natured taunt was inevitable, grinning as he skied by: ‘You guys must be used to those easy North American lifts!’
Later, our friend Johan pointed down toward a mid-station lift and said ‘let’s take that one next. I’ll show you how it works when we get there.’
The way he said it surely meant the lift embarrassment was NOT over.
Sure enough, we arrived at a puzzle.
It was clearly a tow lift, but all we could see was the cable. No T-bars or anything else dangled down to grab onto.
Instead, just behind where you would get on, there was a big jumble of metal pipes all bunched together, unaffected by the moving cable.
If you’re reading this going ‘uh yeah, seen those lots of times’ then you, dear reader, travel more in the winter than we do. Good for you.
If you’re like us, wondering what the heck is going to happen next, then you’ve joined our emotional page. Confusion. Doubt. Curiosity.
Johan informed us it was just like a poma-lift, or knapplift in Swedish (button lift) where you put the disc between your legs and hang on to the pole. One at a time. Simple.
‘I know it looks a little different than in Canada’ he said, ‘but you just grab one, give it a little tug, and off you go.’
Sure enough, a quick shake on the nearest pole would drop it onto the cable to engage, and suddenly Johan was heading uphill.
And when I say ‘suddenly’ I MEAN IT.
He said ‘you’ll want to hang on tight, because it does pull pretty hard.’
While Johan sailed off with well-practiced grace, Jeff looked like someone was trying to pull his arm off as it ragdolled him from stillness to motion.
I made the mistake of laughing. Before it was my turn.
When something challenges Jeff physically, I should be afraid.
Let’s just say a few of those knapplifts went up the cable empty before I managed to follow the instructions successfully.
It’s easy to forget that not everyone else knows what we know.
Our acquired knowledge quickly becomes assumed, absorbed, obvious.
New knowledge streams in at us constantly, through what we read, who we talk to, how we work, what we experience. It’s been happening our whole lives.
It’s effortless, or it’s hard-won, but it just becomes part of us.
What we each come to know is as unique as our individual life experiences. Which can only mean: YOU are a wealth of knowledge.
Cool thought, right?
And although it might be the most mundane thing in the world to fill in someone else’s knowledge gap – Which way is the restroom please? – I’m convinced it’s also pretty damn amazing (even more amazing than not peeing your pants in the hallway).
It means you can learn something from everyone you meet, and you can use your unique knowledge bank to give that value to someone else.
Travelling just brings it into sharp focus: the give and take of what I know and what you know, the incredible time-saver of local knowledge, the chance to have the experience of ‘OHHHH!’ as someone transforms your confusion into clarity.
And if you think you only know stuff everyone else knows, I promise you, it’s not true.
Even if you think you don’t have anything meaningful to share, that you don’t have that spark to change the game for someone else, remember:
Don’t underestimate the value of what you know. Maybe we won’t be able to get to the top without you.
Sharing what we know, and where to go, is what we do. The goal is to make people’s lives better. Simple stoke.
If you want to increase what you know, check out 5 Things Most People Don’t Know About Heli-Skiing.
In the meantime, share what you know. It could make all the difference.
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