It happened again just the other night. I knew it would eventually. But I didn’t come to terms with it until later that stressful day of work, ski and then work. I had my first ski dream of the year. It was a run-of-the-mill nonsensical dream. I was getting a lesson on how to ski moguls properly by someone wearing jeans on a pair of parabolic rental skis.
When it comes to the phrase “livin’ the dream” it’s become a sort of inside joke to me. Sure, I can empathize with those who say it, and may truly believe they are in fact living the dream, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s a one-year term limit on being able to live the dream. After one year in Aspen, you’re living the dream — someone else’s dream. Somewhere in the world there’s a wannabe ski bum, and I’m living a twisted version of his dream.
To live in Aspen, ski every day and party every night is a dream of sorts. It’s just another person’s who can’t quite make it happen in reality. They come here on vacation and spend thousands of dollars to live it for a brief moment, and maybe come back year after year seeking the dream, but it always slips away with the plane ride home. You’re either living the dream or you’re chasing it down.
Fair enough. This life we live clearly isn’t for everyone. Much the way when I go on vacation to somewhere I call paradise, living there is a dream — an unobtainable one at that. I can’t picture myself in a warm weather climate by the ocean making a living in a complicated set of circumstances I’ve created for myself.
If living the dream in Aspen is in fact as great as everyone says it is, then how come there are so many places for sale and there are still large unfinished buildings here? Maybe if we rename timeshares “dream catchers,” the developers and realtors will have better luck selling the dream.
Perhaps we should focus more of our energy on renting the dream as opposed to selling it all the time. Give people only a brief glimpse. The reality of the situation is that the dream is not for sale. It is non-transferable. It is fleeting and illusive.
As far as I can tell there are people here among us wasting space in dreamland. Take for example the ones who constantly bemoan the financial landscape, and how the city and county governments are making their lives so difficult. One person’s dream is apparently another’s nightmare.
Let’s be perfectly honest with ourselves and look at all the horrible stuff that happens here. It’s anything but a dream a lot of the time. Sure, the surroundings are pleasant, even inspiring, and the community is unyielding, but I’ve seen some things go down here that have left a mark on my psyche. When it comes to living the dream in Aspen, don’t be fooled by the glossy four-color brochure. This town will chew you up and spit you out.
The key to life in Aspen is being able to turn a deaf ear to the chatter and negativity, and revel in an almost ignorant bliss-like state. How one goes about actually achieving that is anybody’s guess. There are various methodologies at hand — some flawed, some free and others that are as apparent as the nose on your face.
Aspen is a dream vortex of sorts. Those who live it love it. Those who leave it often return. Those who escape are prone to live vicariously through our local papers online and social media. Some who live in surrounding townships think we’re all crazy. We are often lumped together for convenience. I hear it all the time and it usually starts with the phrase: “All the people up in Aspen …” They keep a critical eye trained on the soap opera-like dilemmas we create, and begrudgingly make the commute to drink from our deep, clean well of prosperity. It’s an odd form of peeing in the pool you’re swimming in.
Dreams are often cruel, unusual and largely nonsensical, so in that sense we are in fact living the dream in Aspen. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m capable of dreaming way bigger than this. In the meantime I’ll continue to go about the business of completing the arduous task at hand — living someone else’s dream.
Lorenzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.