At Mammoth Mountain ski resort, there is an actual mammoth on the slopes. Ok technically it’s a person who skis around dressed as a woolly mammoth. Appropriately named “Woolly”, every time I see this critter, I get excited in a way that makes me feel like a little kid. My eyes widen, and I point, gasping: “look, Woolly!”
My feelings for Woolly are irrationally strong: ostensibly, it’s a silent stranger in a Disney-esque costume. And yet, I would go so far as to say I love Woolly. The picture of Woolly with my 76-year-old Mum and me, taken last weekend, is one of my absolute favorites.
At first, I thought this childish reaction was exclusively mine, but spending lots of time at Mammoth I’ve noticed it’s not just me. Numerous adults have the same, impulsive reaction to Woolly. The coolest snowboarder dudes – decked out in the latest gear – zoom over to Woolly for a group photo as soon as they spot him: “Woolly!!”. I overheard a woman say that she had a collection of photos of herself with Woolly, even as she snapped a new selfie with the sweet natured faux-mammoth.
My reaction to Woolly, and that of others, got me thinking.
There is a pure joy we tap into when we feel like kids again. It’s magical – it enables us to believe something is real, in an irrational, truly beautiful way.
This feeling of magic encourages us to believe that anything is possible, and lets us forget whatever troubles (petty or otherwise) we have. It is the same kind of indescribable joy found in the moments of life: watching fireworks at the Birdwood Show when I was little, sitting on my surfboard in the Moroccan sunshine, glimpsing a view of Bryce Canyon for the first time.
Life can be stressful, and even skiing Mammoth on a busy day can mean waiting for a chairlift and irritation at queue jumpers. But Woolly reminds me that a little spark of inner joy – of wonder – is there inside me all the time, too.