Whenever I tell people that I lived in Aspen, they look at me quizzically. They ask me if I mean I vacationed there. I have to deflect the question of whether I’m a professional skier. And I understand where they’re coming from. The region is best known for luxury Aspen rentals, skiing holidays, and the rich and famous.
I’m always slightly embarrassed to admit that I never quite got the hang of skiing, despite spending hundreds of hours on the slopes. Some people think it’s a waste that I was there a whole year and am not on my way to the Olympics.
But Aspen, Colorado is more than just a place celebs go to ski. It is a natural wonderland, and there are many lessons I learnt living there. I’m really grateful that I got the chance to live and work there. And no, it’s not just because I got great photos for the ‘Gram.
Here’s a little bit of what I discovered living in Aspen for a year.
Everyone has a preference for one or another season of the year. Some people cannot stand the cold, and spend the winter months longing for summer. Others appreciate the opportunities winter brings for an expanded wardrobe. There are those who love the smell of rain and those who can imagine nothing more beautiful than a carpet of Autumnal leaves.
In Aspen, the passing of seasons cannot be ignored. There is a stark contrast between December and August, for example. This manifests in every aspect of life. Business owners are on the go during the winter months, optimistic about profits. The weather is freezing, but the aesthetics of it are beautiful. There are crowds like you’ve never seen before.
In summer months the natural beauty is of a very different kind. People move a bit slower. Some start feeling a little bored or pessimistic.
What I discovered is that it’s foolish to spend one season waiting for another. We do it only when we’re severely limiting our vision of ourselves. We have preferences which we hold onto. There are things we just don’t like and “never will.”
But when there’s such a stark contrast between seasons, that’s not a realistic way to live. You have to open yourself up to trying things you never thought you’d like. You have to get over some of your aversions.
Life is made up of different seasons, and climate is only the tip of the iceberg. We fear getting older because we’ll no longer be able to live the way we do now. We fear moving away from our friends, because we can’t imagine being as comfortable with anyone else. We stick to what we like and hold everything else at arm’s length.
This is, at the very least, an uneconomical way to live life. Time is wasted keeping our ducks in between imaginary lines. When you’re forced to adapt, you realize that you’ve written off so many things that you would have loved, if you’d only given them the chance.
Everyone Is Different
When I first moved to Aspen, I kept observing the same strange phenomenon. Whether someone was a wealthy tourist or the waiter serving them, they were all the same. Everyone had the same quirks and followed the same patterns. They resembled each other as soon as you stripped them of the superficial.
In some ways it was heartening to learn that class differences were social constructs. But I felt disillusioned by it nonetheless. Is everyone really just a few superficial factors away from the prototype?
Over the year, however, I had another revelation. The only reason everyone seemed the same was that I was looking for myself in them. The differences I was noticing between me and every other person were only superficial, and so I had begun to think those were the only differences. But I discovered that those were the only differences I knew to look for. What I approved of in others, I approved of for myself. What I disapproved of in others, I disapproved of for myself.
I was only seeing reflections of my own sense of self-worth, rather than seeing beneath all of that. Once I realized this, I could see that everyone was the same in one particular aspect: they were all individuals.
Now this may be reminiscent of a cynical line from Life Of Brian, but it is strangely poignant nonetheless. We judge people based on our own prejudices about ourselves. We end up seeing the most superficial differences – this one is rich and this one is poor – instead of what makes each person unique.
Living in a town where the different “classes” of people were so pronounced, I was forced to recognize that neither was better or worse than the other. No matter their position in society, each person was as much an individual as the next one. Still sounds like a paradox, I know!
The main thing I discovered living in Aspen was that change is all around us, whether we choose to see it or not. Even if we live in one place all our lives, we cannot ignore it forever. Our very bodies change over time. Our lives move in directions we cannot control. And if we learn to embrace the change in everything, life is a lot more interesting – and a lot more satisfying.
Aspen Snowmass – wikimedia creative commons
Aspen Maroon Bells – pixabay creative commons
Aspen in the Fall – pixabay creative commons
Guest Author Bio
Ilan Kaps has been writing about travel for six years now but his love for the niche goes back to childhood. He loves all sorts of adventures, sports and spending time travelling the world.