Aspen Princess: Show us, don’t tell
November 16, 2016
It's a quiet fall afternoon in the midvalley, when the light is low and everything is illuminated, rays of sunlight flicker through the trees and the flaxen dried grasses so it doesn't look quite real, more like a memory than the current moment. Like you already know you're going to remember this, or at least you want to, even if you know it'll eventually disintegrate into the basement of time, like a dream that slips away between sleep and waking.
To add to the surreal nature of the moment, an old guy strums guitar on his front porch, playing "And I Love Her," which has been in my head ever since. I watch my son pull the hair on my husband's beard, grab his nose and stick his fingers in his mouth like a little bear cub. My heart swells. I don't remember ever feeling this happy.
I think Ryan was right when he said, "Don't think the sun ain't gonna continue to shine on the Roaring Fork Valley" the day after the election. But that's kind of the point.
And it's also kind of the problem.
Let's face it: We live in a bubble. No matter what's happening in the rest of the world, I'll continue to live my little life of privilege where the hardest part of my day is that last section on the Arbaney Kittle trail.
I'll continue to go to hot yoga, where I intentionally put myself into a state of discomfort so I can practice how to stay calm and practice breathing and work on engaging my Mula Bundha. I will focus on myself in the front mirror, partly because it helps my balance and also because I want to admire my new outfit from Fabletics, which only cost 15 bucks and makes me look like Kate Hudson if I squint my eyes and blur my vision a little.
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Am I upset about the election? Yes. Am I scared about the direction our country seems to be headed? Yes. Do I feel powerless in terms of being able to do anything about it? Of course I do.
At the same time, I have to be honest: I am part of the elite who somehow became totally alienated from over half the people in this country who voted for Trump (OK, half minus 1 million popular votes). I am nothing more than a "slack-chair activist" who enters my email address onto petitions circulated by Change.org. I live in a community where everyone is white, wealthy and good looking. There are no violent protests here. No anger, no hate. Just blue skies, fresh air, clean water, sunshine, the sound of a guitar strumming, and the love I feel for my hot husband and my new designer baby.
If I'm being totally honest, I have never done my part to improve society or help people in need other than donating my five bucks to Lift-Up when prompted by the cashier at Whole Foods.
Well, maybe it's time to change that.
Hello, half of our population (at least past the roundabout), is comprised of the very people who are going to be most affected by Trump's presidency. I'm thinking maybe the way to create change is to start right here in our own backyard, because guess what, it's not as perfect as it looks.
My brother has lived in Costa Rica for 12 years, and whenever he comes to visit, he constantly engages with native Spanish speakers, chatting them up and laughing and carrying on. These are people who are in the periphery of my life every single day who I don't see. It's not that I'm ignoring them, I just don't notice them. That's not to say I have never interacted with any immigrants, of course I have! There are the cleaning lady, my friend's nanny and the funny guys on Ryan's old landscaping crew (Ryan loved those guys).
See where I'm going with this?
Last year I did a story on Valley Settlement Project, a local nonprofit that runs programs to help low-income immigrant families get settled and integrate into the community. I was truly moved by how much these programs have changed people's lives, empowering them to actualize the American dream that they came here for in the first place.
Remember that concept, the American Dream? Newsflash: Most of us are here because of it. We are all descendants of immigrants.
I've watched a lot of my friends and family react to this election in myriad ways. Some mourned, some cried and some became despondent, angry or depressed, while others tried to look to the bright side. I reacted the same way I do whenever things get tough: First I pretend the bad thing isn't happening and then I try to run away.
So here's what I'm suggesting: If you're one of those people in my Facebook feed who is freaking the funk out, put down your smartphone and go do something. Let's start right here in our own community by donating our time or money to the organizations that are going to need it: Planned Parenthood, Valley Settlement Project, English in Action, Response and Protect Our Winters, to name a few.
You can still go pick up your discount rotisserie chicken at Whole Foods on Wednesdays. You can still do your annual juice cleanse after pigging out over Thanksgiving. You can even stop thinking about this awful election and start thinking about the holidays, your family and sharing good times with the people you love.
But I think if this election taught us anything, it's that we're not going to solve the world's problems by sitting around the Aspen Institute with a bunch of smarty pants elite sharing intellectual discourse between gourmet catered meals and mountain bike rides. We've got to open our eyes and look at the world outside our little bubble.
The Princess is excited for her Brazilian blowout today. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.