skinner

This is the time of year when some of us take a reckoning of our current positions and maybe even find some nuggets to be grateful for. After a couple of challenging years my gratitude has shifted focus, but I believe that there's still some light coming down my tunnel. As you get older, you learn to appreciate some things a whole bunch.

I got into self help and must thank my therapist, whom I refer to as my professional friend, for keeping my eye on the ball and showing me things in my life to appreciate. He recently had me create a “gratitude list,” which I've never done in such a concerted way. Creating a list is a meaningful way to reflect and focus and I can highly recommend the exercise.

I wanted to keep my list to one page but after about a half hour I found myself running out of space. Not one to give up, I kept adding to the page … in between lines ... sideways up the margins … filling every empty space. Of course, gratitude lists can be radically personal but there's enough generic stuff on there for me to share some with you.

One thing I am grateful for is the Aspen Daily News. I have been writing this column for more than three decades and I have managed to survive many editors, publishers and even two different owners. Some of those editors have saved me from making a complete ass of myself and sometimes they have found a way to add a little sparkle to the words.

One owner in particular showed great restraint and did not fire me after an egregious error that brought national media attention to the front office. That's a story for the ages that very few people remember, thankfully. The fact that I can still find the muse is something to be thankful for, that's for sure. And, considering the national trend of small newsrooms being shuttered, this paper continues to buck the trend, keeping dedicated employees on the job.

None of the writing would mean a darn thing without you, dear reader. Some of you know me and some of you don't, but if you are reading this now, now you know me at least a little bit. So thank you for reading my work and thanks for this fine paper.

And Aspen? Thank you, Aspen. When I moved to Aspen fresh out of college I found a bubbling Shangri-La. There was creative work for me at every turn, and I got to write and design for the newspaper, entertain people on the radio, perform, write and produce theatrical productions, perform original music and bump elbows with some of the most successful people working at the peak of their careers. What a place.

And gravity? I am grateful for that as well. So many powder days on Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass. I was there when the Silver Queen gondola went in and shredded countless loops at lunchtime thanks to her.

Rivers. So thankful for discovering the joy, serenity, adventure and access to our rivers. The Roaring Fork, The Frying Pan, the Crystal and the mighty Colorado. My first rafting excursion was a company field trip on the Arkansas River with my coworkers from KSNO. I was hooked! That passion I discovered has led to innumerable adventures both near and far. From stand-up paddle boarding in the nature preserve to racing in the class IV Gore Canyon rafting race, I've seen a lot and lived to tell the tale.

I had to call on all my skills to survive boating down a flooded tributary of the Amazon River in Bolivia, so I'm glad I had that experience going in.

People round out my gratitude list. Friends. Family. Kind strangers. Grocery clerks. First responders. They are all greatly appreciated. I will never forget my mother, who died recently. She was a firecracker and a challenging woman whom I grew to appreciate more with each passing day. We struggled but we laughed a lot, and she was important. When I held her hand as she drew her last breath I was very fortunate to be by her side. I knew I was losing a lot but I also had many treasured memories, and I remain appreciative of the fact that without her, my life would not be possible.

I don't know much, but if I can venture to provide any advice from this rich pageant of my life it would be to love your mother. No matter what they tell you or try to sell you, you only get one mom. Only one. You would not be here without one, either, so pay attention and invest some love. It comes back to you.

Steve Skinner knows we all have something to be grateful for, and it’s always worth it to keep looking. Reach him at moogzuki@gmail.com.