Life Lessons From A Skiing Legend (or Somehow This Death Hit Me Hard)

I’m not the sort of person who usually gets upset over a celebrity death. Of course I’m sad when it’s someone who I admire or who did something incredible, but I’m not the type of person to visit graves or gets too emotional when the news breaks that someone passed away. It’s not that I don’t care, but I just don’t have the connection that some people have to celebrities that makes them feel like they know them.

But a death changed that this week. He may not be a celebrity to everyone, but Warren Miller was an incredible filmmaker that specialized in movies about skiing. He made over 500 films and had skiing films that came out right before ski season for the last 60 years. I grew up going to these movies with my parents. It was a tradition that we all loved and I have the best memories from going to those movies. For the 50th anniversary film, there was a contest where everyone got a fake ski bib with a number on it when they walked in. If you found someone with the same number, you got a free shirt. And I found the person with mine! It was awesome winning that shirt.

Besides seeing the films each year when they screened near where I grew up, we had a bunch of these movies on VHS (now we have a few on DVD). Whenever we were in Tahoe, it seemed like the entertainment for the evening was to watch a Warren Miller movie. We quote things from them from time to time and we still remember some of the funniest moments from the movies. They were a great combination of amazing skiing and ridiculous moments. They were pretty much the perfect movie to watch when you wanted to watch something on skiing.

When I saw that he passed away this week, I was so sad right away. It’s almost like the end of an era even though I hadn’t seen a Warren Miller movie in probably a decade. But it’s still something that was such a huge part of my childhood and now it seems like it is over. Warren Miller wasn’t actually making the films for the last several years, but I know with him gone they can’t even come close to being what they once were.

So I spent some time searching online for various Warren Miller things. I found some clips on YouTube, checked out the prices for digital versions of his movies (I think I’ll probably get one or two because they are pretty cheap), and read a couple of articles. And one of them was titled “Top 10 Warren Miller Quotes” and I think it hit me why this death seemed so bad.

Even though I hadn’t seen one of his movies in a decade, I’m sure that some of the things that he said are still deep in my subconscious. One of his common quotes that he said was “If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do”. That hit me hard because it is so true for so many aspects of life. I’ve told friends how I feel like my 20’s slipped away without me accomplishing anything. And I’m feeling a bit like that with my 30’s as well. I don’t want to keep waiting for next year to do it and then realize that I’m in my 40’s and still in the same place.

There are some good quotes from that page. I love “Don’t take life too seriously, because you can’t come out of it alive”. And of course since his movies had so much comedy in them there are some comedic quotes too like “If your parents didn’t have children, odds are you won’t either” and “They say it’s always darkest before the dawn. So if you’re going to steal your neighbor’s newspaper…that’s the time to do it”.

I think that some of these quotes were exactly what I needed to hear right now. I’m not necessarily in a rut, but I can feel like one is coming if I don’t change much. And of course whenever someone passes away it’s a reminder that life isn’t for forever and we need to enjoy it while we can. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I can’t go skiing to honor Warren Miller’s legacy, but I can live life to the fullest. I can enjoy the silly and stupid moments of life and make sure that I don’t wait to do things.

And I’ll probably watch some of his movies soon too. Sometimes you just need to have a great laugh at people falling off of a chairlift. Even though this isn’t the original narration with Warren Miller, it still has one of my family’s favorite quotes: “You want your ski? Go get it.”

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