I was skiing along the other day at our local mountain when I bumped into an old friend. For the purposes of this story, we’ll call him Jones.
Jones and I had corresponded via text message the prior evening about meeting up for some runs. But since cellular service is unreliable at Arapahoe Basin, it was convenient to ski up to each other on the cornice instead. His delightful-sounding plan had been to get up very early and secure one of the coveted front-row spots on The Beach, then grill some meat and wash it down with a brewski or two after cutting through fresh powder all morning.
The only problem with Jones’s plan was he didn’t get to the Basin in time to secure a spot on the front row. April and May are party months on the Beach, where real estate is in such high demand that arriving any time after dawn basically means you should’ve slept two more hours and come up at 8 to fight for a mezzanine spot.
When I saw Jones on the cornice, he informed me he was row-parked just like everyone else who didn’t make the cut. “What happened?” I asked. He turned and looked at me with a grin, like what he was about to say could’ve been called trivial.
“I think I’ve lost my jones.” Then he kept right on skiing to our drop-in point.
It was the first time I’d ever heard those words. Suddenly my mind filled with questions. Can someone really lose his jones? How does that happen? Is it a long process or an overnight thing? What happens to the jones once it gets lost? Is there some big jones graveyard where all the excess joneses go to be buried? Is that graveyard in the suburbs? Does life as a whole start going downhill once you’ve lost your jones? Can it be found?
I had more questions, but right then I needed to start skiing again so as not to be left on the cornice. The only thing I said to Jones about his shocking disclosure was, “Really?” Then I let it pass, to be posited on my own time later.
Truth be told, it’s perfectly acceptable not to want to wake up at oh-dark-thirty just for a decent parking spot in a free dirt lot. I don’t think that alone means you’ve lost your jones. But Jones knew exactly what he was talking about — he is neither ignorant nor naive when it comes to this kind of thing. On the contrary, Jones has dwelled in many a high-altitude community over the past 15 or 20 years, and he knows exactly what a jones feels like, and is. For him to say he lost his, well, I took him seriously.
Personally, I don’t think one can lose his jones. I think it can fade, just like hairlines do, but I don’t think it ever really goes away. A jones, to me, is not just a desire; it’s one level above that, sort of this ever-present zest that steers your decisions and keeps your priorities straight. Surfers jones for ground swell and offshore winds. Skiers jones for light, dry powder. Climbers jones for the rain to stop.
To jones (as you probably know, it’s a wordsmith’s chameleon, usable either as a noun or a verb) is to want something more than you might want, say, sprouts in your salad. It’s not an inner urge reserved exclusively for one realm of life, but rather a general quirk to your personality that applies to many realms. I don’t think every member of our race is born with a jones inside him, because there are some slugs out there who seem to lack any zest whatsoever. But those who are lucky enough to possess a jones — I don’t think they can lose it simply due to age and the been-there-done-that syndrome.
How does a jones evolve, then? Naturally. When I picture myself as a man in my 60s or 70s, God willing, I picture myself on a backcountry hut trip with some close amigos or family members, watching the powder mount on the hill out the window. I highly doubt I’ll be bounding out the door in full winter gear to make 7 a.m. powder turns. But I am optimistic that my jones won’t let me sit there past 8.