Bred to Shred // Colin Skaggs

I came to college this year with many hopes, dreams and expectations but the overall purpose of why I came to Santa Clara University was to achieve happiness. I would go to school for four years earn a degree in civil engineering and make lasting memories, and then my experience here at Santa Clara would setup me up for a happy fulfilling life. That idea of how to attain happiness is what the world me from media to my teachers to my friends and parents. However, when my Critical Thinking and Writing course started talking about happiness in the fall when my professor brought in the happiness project. The happiness project was just a simply worksheet that asked you to fill out what you knew about happiness. To my dismay I didn’t really know much happiness, I didn’t know what it looked like or even sounded like. This is when I started to question this idea of happiness that I grew up with.

My Question

I grew up in a skiing family and every winter skiing is my number one priority, and living in Oregon I am lucky enough to have some pretty great ski seasons.  I fell in love with my hometown mountain, Mt. Hood; it just makes me so happy to be on Hood skiing.  I am not the only one who thinks this; in fact there is a group of skiers called the Hood Crew who have dedicated their lives to skiing.  The Crew consists of about ten main members but it expands every year and even spans an age group of about 17-23.  They all spend their entire existence just to ski and they love every bit.  Of tall he people I know, I can say that they re arguably some of the happiest people.  Yet about 50 percent did not go to college and about 80 percent did not or will not graduate college.  In fact the Hood Crew is easily the biggest bunch of hoodlums I can fathom to think about it.  They did not follow society’s plan to achieve happiness like I am trying to do.  However I am stuck in the library working tirelessly on assignments that gives me no fulfillment and leads to no happiness.  While the only work the Hood Crew will ever do is to be ski, which makes them happy.

mouth full of hunneds



Many may call the Hood Crew a bunch of bums, but I have started to think of them more as minimalists than anything else. They don’t spend their time, energy or money on things that weigh them down. They focus on the bare essentials of what is going to allow them to ski and be with each other. I have a vey close personal friend who I went to high school with, Reed Hall, who used to ski with them. Reed told me that a couple of them during the ski season used to sleep in their cars in order to save money on rent and most of them work as baggers at the grocery store or odd jobs up on the mountain so that they do not have to work during 8 A.M.-4 P.M., which is of course ski time.

Early this year my CTW class did a collaborative essay on excess and we titled it “Drowning in Decadence: The Root Of Unhappiness In America’s Working Class”, and my focus was on status. Status is defined as the relative social and professional standing of someone and in America; status has become the measuring stick for ones happiness. Americans have become obsessed with constantly striving for a higher status that it consumes their life and career. One’s status based on the food they eat, the technology they use and the money they posses has given people an illusion of their happiness, however when you stop striving for a higher status their happiness fades. But the beauty of the Hood Crew is that they don’t care about their status as long as there are hitting the slopes it does not matter what kind of job they are working. The Hood Crew definitely lives a minimalist life yet it is meaningful.



Beyond just the Hood Crew but skiing in general gives you a powerful and mind clearing connection. It is an escape from the rest of the world that allows you to escape and reflect on yourself. In my CTW course we had a large emphasis on technology and how it was affecting our lives today. I wrote an essay called “Isolation through Connection” describing how technology is overrunning our lives and breaking our connections and ultimately our happiness.IsolationTech_by_sugar_tongue In Sherry Turkles TED speech she portrays how this instantaneous, immediate access to communication thwarts our ability to reflect and think for ourselves. Instead everything is at full throttle that we don’t take time to do things our own way, that is not same old same old, but it is new and creative. Skiing is an outlet for this problem to technology and being overrun with constant connection to world. It does not have to even be skiing but anything that allows you to escape, may that be surfing or running or even painting. The point is to do something to enjoyable for you and let yourself be free.


We watched a film multiple times called This is Water by David Foster Wallace that was explaining the idea of awareness and looking right in front of you at what you have and actually appreciating it for once. I am not saying I need to drop out of school and join the Hood Crew to be happy, but I need to understand that I can let myself enjoy things like skiing. I need to have that awareness, that perspective of being able to see what makes me happy and really going out and pursuing it. If you are doing what you love then you will love your life, everyone has heard something like that. The issue is that people don’t take the time to be aware about what they love like the Hood Crew has done. However everyone has the ability to be aware about what they love and we all have the ability to be happy. I read Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters by J.D. Salinger last summer and remembered this quote “He sees what he wants to see, and not what he does not want to see. He looks at the things he ought to look at, and neglects those that need not to be looked at”. That’s how everyone can be happy, by reflecting and connecting with ourslevs as well as cutting out the things that our weighing us down. Once you do this then you can be aware of what makes you happy and pursue like the Hood Crew.


Works Cited


Happymeter. “ChocolateFountain.” : Unconciously Isolated, but Most of Us Realize…Don’t We? ChocolateFountain, 18 Apr. 2012. Web. 07 May 2014. <;.

Kennelly, Stacey. “Greater Good.” Happiness Is about Respect, Not Riches. N.p., 13 July 2012. Web. 06 Apr. 2014. <>.

Salinger, J. D. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter and Seymour an Introduction. New York: Bantam, 1965. Print.

This Is Water. Dir. Matthew Freidell. Prod. Allie Dunning and Jeremy Dunning. By David Foster Wallace. Youtube. N.p., 30 Oct. 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. <;.

Kennelly, Stacey. “Greater Good.” Happiness Is about Respect, Not Riches. N.p., 13 July 2012. Web. 06 Apr. 2014. <>.


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