Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fitting Into a Culture

I have always been interested in the nature of culture. Whether we realize it or not, we are always functioning withing a cultural context. There are many definitions and descriptions of the nature of a culture. For the most part the elements of a culture include shared values, goals, practices and attitudes. This all gets played out in the myths, heroes and rites of the culture.
Recently Nancy and I have affiliated with a new church community. In the process we are learning to respect and appreciate the heroes, practices and values of our new environment. In respecting this established culture we have been welcomed and included in a very compatible way.

As I think about the Tough Old Geezer Skiers, I believe that this group has its own culture too. There are the heroes who are remembered. Many are those that skied well into their late eighties and some who skied into their nineties. There is appreciation and admiration for the outstanding skiers. For those not so outstanding skiers by accepted performance standards, there is appreciation for a variety of skiing styles that fit their experience and skill and brings them enjoyment. We all value a good story and the daily locker room ritual greetings. Each day has its rhythm of skiing, coffee breaks and debriefing on the conditions of the slopes. Some of us are willing to publicly identify ourselves with our Tough Old Geezer Skier name tags. I would like to think that we value serving the GP community by bringing a smile to the strangers we encounter.
Cultures have a way of sustaining themselves by adaptation as conditions change. Or if the adaptation does not occur the culture disappears. In my history of skiing at Greek Peak, there have been cultural changes. In the current model most of the TOGS exit the area around noon. A few years ago the daily ritual included a significant group sharing a picnic lunch often followed by a brief afternoon skiing session. That has almost completely disappeared. A few years ago I was skiing regularly at Toggenburg where the TOGS equivalent usually arrived about 10 AM or so, broke for lunch at 12 Noon and then skied briefly in the afternoon.
If anyone who reads this is an aspiring TOGS here is a possible blueprint for entering the culture. Come aboard!

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