A solitary man | AspenTimes.com

A solitary man

Dear Editor:

Paul Andersen’s column on Monday, “You can’t buy this lifestyle,” reminded me of a person I know. I felt proud to be part of a tribe he describes – but a tad idealized.

Why does the grass always look greener on the other side of the fence? Some say it is the angle of sight and the light. Yes, being self-willed is helpful in choosing a different lifestyle, and solitude is a motivating desire. But self-will can also be selfish, and solitude can turn to isolation and loneliness.

Powder skiing is truly addicting, and sacrifice is easy when the legs are young and strong. And how much one can sacrifice in the throes of addiction can be good or bad.

The irony is I have been guilty of idealizing Paul’s lifestyle – his courage to get married and buy a house on the Fryingpan and his stories of his son growing up, his intellectual rigors and the chance to express them in a weekly column. My fantasies of his life have been tempered by his sacrifices he has made for his wife, his son, his home and deadlines.

How many sacrifices does a mountain man make with a rustic lifestyle, maybe a marriage, a child, a career? Following the “whims of his moods” can be a roller coaster without the focus of routine and sacrifice. My body is freer in the landscape where I live but I am still chained to the needs of shelter, of being a wood slut for my wood pile and the snowmobile.

The mountain ski bum is definitely an endangered species. Please don’t be afraid to say hello even if the mountain man appears aloof and distant. Solitude can create hunger for attention.

Thank you, Paul, for letting me see for a moment how green the grass is on my side of the fence. Mutual gratitude for each other’s lifestyle is a good way to keep a friendship. You pick subjects other writers seldom touch with thoughtfulness and a soulful intensity. If we could only walk in each other’s shoes for a day.

Thanks for trying to imagine mine.

Peter “Rabbit” Bisset


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