‘How old would you be if you didn’t know when you were born?’
September 2, 2016
VAIL — For 65 years, a Warren Miller film has officially started the ski season, and the world's most experienced and successful ski bum thanks each of you for supporting his lifestyle.
"People occasionally stop to tell me how they grew up watching my ski films. The ski season did not start until the local ski club or ski shop rented the latest film," said Miller, now 91 years old. "They will tell me how I used to walk out on the stage and introduce the film in their city, and they can remember the sound of my voice and seeing my bald head shining from the corner of the stage. I'm lucky they remembered it: They all helped support my lifestyle."
Miller's new autobiography, "Freedom Found: My Life Story," is a rollicking and occasionally raw romp through one of the most celebrated lives in skiing.
There's some familiar material that will embrace you like an old friend, but almost all of it is new. It gives context to his entire amazing life.
Miller's story is even more compelling than the stories told by skiing's master storyteller.
From a dysfunctional, Depression-era childhood to his lifelong obsession with snow, surf and film, Miller bares his soul. He grew up with a jobless, alcoholic father and a convicted felon mother. He's remarkably candid about success and failure, lessons learned and others ignored, the lifestyle, the nonstop travel, financial disasters, family regrets and lasting friendships.
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"Freedom Found" is a heartwarming and sometimes heart-wrenching account of an American innovator who understood the importance of making people laugh.
Through it all, Miller never looked back … until now.
"Looking back on what set my films apart, it was the emphasis on entertaining people that made all the difference, and that means making them laugh," Miller said.
"This book is a backstage pass to the life and times of the man who created the modern ski movie," said Craig Altschul, former editorial director for http://www.snocountry.com.
Here's one you probably didn't know: Warren Miller flunked English. It did not stop him from chasing his dream through a viewfinder.
"I had a unique view of the world that I could translate into words and phrases," Miller said. "Many of my lines over the years were borrowed from others and repurposed for my needs. So apologies and thanks to those who may have said some of them or part of them before me."
Then there are phrases such as, "On the other hand, you have different fingers," or "In 100 years, all new people."
"They were my own weird inventions," Miller said.
Vail played a huge role in Miller's early career. He lived here for a dozen years and was recruited as a columnist for the Vail Daily. Miller's column is now widely syndicated.
As part of the book promotion, he is appearing in the annual Warren Miller ski film this fall, after a 12-year absence.
Even now, Miller runs against the norm. Most people who migrate spend their summers in cooler climates and their winters in warmth. Miller, bless his 91-year-old ski-bumming heart, spends his winters in Big Sky, Montana, and his summers in Deer Harbor, Washington.
Warren Miller's Warren-isms
Never tell a lie, because you don't have a good enough memory.
Two policemen are smarter than one crook.
Always try everything at least twice.
Life is what happens to you when you're making other plans.
No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.
For every opportunity to enjoy freedom, there is an equal and opposite government restriction.
At least once a year, go someplace and do something you have never done before.
In spite of the high cost of living, it is still very popular.
Freedom is located somewhere outside the box.
How many roads must a man travel before he admits he is lost?
Old habits can produce old results, and new habits produce new freedoms.
Not getting what you want can be a stroke of good luck.
Indecision is the key to flexibility.
My indecisions are final.
You can't tell which way the train went by looking at the track.
Happiness is merely the remission of pain.
Sometimes too much drink isn't enough.
Things are more like they are today than ever before.
Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.
If you think there is good in everybody, you haven't met everybody.
If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.
Never eat in a restaurant with a bowling trophy on the cash register.
Don't you wish you'd had that second thought first?
I finally got it together and forgot where I put it.
When my ship came in, I was at the airport.
The only place to hide is behind the horizon.
The perfect driver always rides in the backseat.
One-seventh of your life is spent on Monday.
If you can afford to go to college, then you don't need to.
Don't ever forget that you will work all of your life to be a success overnight.
Entertain the people who show up, and feel sorry for those who don't.
Making a living is very different from making a life.
If you don't wake up excited a few minutes before your alarm goes off in the morning, perhaps you have the wrong job, the wrong home address, or both.
If you don't have any idea where you're going, you'll probably end up there.
By the time you make ends meet, they move the ends.
All the world's a franchise, and it started with the pay toilet.
There is no substitute for genuine lack of preparation.
Freedom is when preparation meets the opportunity you have created.
If your parents didn't have children, odds are you won't either.
If at first you don't succeed, why don't you do it the way your wife suggested?
She had an hourglass figure but her time had run out.
He used cue cards at his wedding.
He was a modest man, with a lot to be modest about.
You can walk through the waters of his mind and not get your feet wet.
He was an engineer in subterranean sanitation.
From the back, she looked like a yellow cab with both doors open.
A man without a woman is like a fish without a bicycle.
On Aging Gracefully
How old would you be if you didn't know when you were born?
Anyone who says "I can ski as well at 50 as I could at 25" was really lousy at 25.
I ate a lot of "natural" foods . . . until one of my friends died of "natural" causes.
If you keep thinking you are getting old, you will become old sooner.
Why we age is a biological question; how we age is a philosophical one.
It's been a long, hard road, and some of the roads weren't paved.
Birthdays are good for you—the more you have the longer you live.
Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.
No one is ever too old to do something really dumb.
You've reached maturity when you discover the volume knob also turns to the left.
You're getting old when you no longer want to throw a snowball.
Don't take life seriously, because you won't come out of it alive.
One out of one people will die.
In a hundred years, all new people.
I used to think that I would live forever—now I realize that I already have.
On the Mountain
The family that skis together goes broke together.
Remember your first day on skis? This looks like it is going to be another one of those days.
There was something magical about my camera that automatically lowered a skier's IQ.
Skiing's changed. You used to have to watch home movies of your friends' vacations to Mt. Stupid. Now you have to watch videos of their knee surgery.
You ski as well as your kids do for one day of your life.
You can do four things with a pair of skis. You can turn right, turn left, go straight, or sell them.
For sale: Condominium-view condominiums.
Adventure is the invitation for common people to become uncommon.
You can't get hurt skiing unless you fall.
Streets are straight, houses are square, and our bodies are round. We don't belong inside. We belong outside, doing stuff.
The road to Alta is never closed; sometimes, however, travel is restricted.
The definition of extreme is to go past your known limits by an unknown amount.
The best thing about skiing backward is you can see where you've been.
The family that bitches together skis together.
Bumps on the mountain are like heartbeats; you only have so many of them in your knees, and when they are gone they are gone.
When I started skiing, my pants were baggy and my cheeks were tight. Now my cheeks are baggy and my pants are tight.
When the first fiberglass skis came out, you could buy them in any color as long as it was black.
I like to ski on the edge of total relaxation.
I don't want a cheaper lift ticket. I want an expensive lift ticket that costs less and keeps others from skiing so I can have the mountain to myself.
When it comes to skiing, there's a difference between what you think it's going to be like, what it's really like, and what you tell your friends it was like.
The best place in the world to ski is where you're skiing that day.
You want your skis? Go get 'em.
If you don't do it this year, you'll be one year older when you do.
See you next year, same time, same place.
Thank you, and good night.