Aspen Princess: Taking control in an uncontrollable world
So the other day I saw my brother had liked my column on Facebook, which is rare.
Dan lives in Costa Rica, so I pinged him on Messenger. This is how we communicate, sending notes to each other like we are in grade school when we should probably be focusing on something else.
“Did you actually read it?” I asked him.
“Yes, I did. I was hoping for some comic relief, but it was still good.”
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We proceeded to get into a discussion about the current state of affairs, and my brother was having a bit of a meltdown.
“China is going to bomb us,” he wrote, and sent me a link to an article from a blog I’d never heard of that said China had moved some nuclear warheads to a site in Russia where it could be aimed right at our asses.
“I’ve never heard of this site. You’re better off sticking with mainstream media,” I wrote. “These bloggers can write what they want, but it’s more than likely a theory or an opinion than a verifiable fact.”
Then he sent me a link to another article from a site I’d never heard of that essentially said the same thing,
I coolly downplayed all his fears, reassuring him everything will be OK. I gave him a pep talk about not letting anyone steal his peace away and that he should not waste another minute of his energy or time thinking about it. I tried to distract him the way I do with my 1-year-old, asking him about his upcoming trip to France and about his work. I actually was pretty proud of myself.
But later that evening, my mind began to run wild with fear. What if my brother was right? What if we were to be attacked? What if our water became tainted? What if we weren’t able to get gasoline? What if the Russians sabotaged our internet or our cellphone networks? I began to picture myself stockpiling giant jugs of water in our crawl space like a crazy person. Should we invest in an electric car just in case?
Or should we just leave the country? Would I know when it was time to get out, before it’s too late?
I crawled into bed, my mind still racing, and let out a big, heavy sigh.
“Stop reading Facebook,” Ryan grumbled, yanking the covers.
He said I should stop freaking out, stop letting my brother get me all riled up and forget about ever leaving the A-frame. He also told me to get off social media if I’m going to read all that crap.
On Sunday, Ryan went on a ski trip with some friends and I took the babe up to Steamboat to visit my folks. As soon as I drove into Glenwood Canyon, I felt myself relax a little.
The truth is, I have been a bit of a wreck myself. I took a horrible spill my first day snowboarding this year because I got a new board and forgot to de-tune it. I caught an edge just above Chair 3 on Ajax and face-slammed into the hard pack and have been in chronic pain ever since. My neck feels pinched and I can’t turn my head very well. My shoulder hurts so bad I can’t lift my arms up over my head. And I’ve developed a wicked case of carpal tunnel from lifting the babe and doing all the other stuff that requires excessive use of my hands, like typing and snapping tiny snaps (which as I have mentioned has become the bane of my existence), not to mention lugging the car seat around (25 pounds-plus) and whatever else I have to schlep in and out of our house, which requires going up and down 16 steps.
This hasn’t stopped me from hiking the bowl three days in a row last week (whoop whoop) or going to yoga or hiking with the babe. But it occurred to me that the pain I’m in is beyond physical.
For the first time in my life, I don’t feel safe. The fear I’m experiencing is way below the surface of my everyday thoughts, though my thoughts do go there. I guess it’s because I feel like it’s something I don’t have any control over.
But as I drove north on 131, where the sky is big and the road is straight and the world seems to unfold around you, opening up like a spring bloom, I felt like I could breathe. Despite the horrors of what is going on in the Divided States of America, the sky was still blue, the river continued to flow, cars were driving past and people were still going places and living their lives. My beautiful babe slept peacefully in his car seat, his head listing to one side, cheeks plump and flushed, his perfect lips parted as he breathed, blissfully unaware.
We drove on, past Finger Rock and through the sleepy ranching community of Yampa and Oak Creek, a town that feels somehow frozen in time, a tiny enclave that hasn’t changed or grown or opened a Starbucks. And then into Steamboat, where the Yampa Valley with its endless aspen groves and low, rolling hills and the pastel light that plays across the landscape in the late afternoon light envelops me in a feeling of warmth and comfort.
And I realized Ryan is right. I do have control over my own life. I can choose to take care of myself first and decide where to invest my time and energy. I can revel in the joy of my beautiful baby, and the love I have for my friends and family and the beauty of the place where I live. If I can stay positive, maybe I can radiate that out to people who are struggling as I was.
Love always wins.
The Princess is going to try to sneak in a bowl lap today. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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