Marolt: Are we living in a world ruled by emotion?
You can’t argue with good, solid emotion
Do we live in a world ruled by emotion? Probably not. But we might be living in a town where decisions come more from the heart than the head.
Not that there is a stereotypical Aspenite, but don’t you think it would be fair to say that most of us made irrational decisions to live here and continue to do so to stay? Housing costs are ridiculous. Career prospects are slim. The cost of raising a family is daunting. So why did we come? Oh, yeah — the skiing is great! Rationalization is not the same as rational thinking.
This could help explain why we have something like the S-curves — a half-mile section of one-lane road connecting two longer sections of some of the busiest highway in the state. We claim this has a calming effect on the entrance to our town and preserves “community character.” Now what do you think Einstein would have thought of this?
It also could be why we fight so much over almost everything. There might be a couple of reasons for this: First, emotional people can’t be made to see logic no matter how articulately it is argued. Secondly, they can’t come up with any logical arguments, anyway.
What if it’s true that the only truly rational people here are developers, second-home owners and tourists? It might be the case. Developers came here to make money. Rational people know you need this to live, at least to some degree. They can afford nice houses, the groceries of their choice, to send the kids to college without looming bankruptcy and to put away a little something for early retirement.
Second-home owners can convince me that they are here by virtue of wise choices, too. Most of them have careers in the cities and comfortably stuffed bank accounts as a result. Their houses here are solid investments, the monetary returns on which allow them to visit for a few weeks a year without a care in the world; that means full days of skiing, late-afternoon hot-tubbing and nights filled with fine dining and entertainment almost for free. About 10 percent of locals will admit this sounds pretty darn good; the rest are liars.
Lastly, the tourists have it figured out pretty well. They also have good jobs and comfortable houses elsewhere, where they live comfortably around friends and neighbors they have known and will know for years. Many of them probably live close to extended family. They come and enjoy Aspen when the snow is good or when the town is full of summertime activity. If they get tired of Aspen, they can go anywhere else they want.
Now, I’m not saying we have it bad living here. It’s just that we kind of exist half backward. We came for the winter on a whim and irresponsibly stayed for the summer. We met our spouses at a Deaf Camp picnic. We pieced together odd living situations and odder jobs throughout the years. We have no idea what we are going to do as we approach retirement except get old, which we illogically deny at the same time.
I mean, we’re happy our kids got good educations at the local schools, we found spirituality even if we had to search a little harder, and we’ve seen a lot of magnificent sunsets over beers at the end of fine powder days. But we didn’t plan any of it. We did what it took to keep hanging around and let life come to us. Sure, that’s a plan, but it’s not one a rational, logical person would ever make.
Being dominated by right-brained thinking is not bad, except for maybe when we debate left-brainers who move so adroitly in straight lines from Point A through Point B to get to Point C. You know who I’m talking about. These are the types of thinkers who design big buildings for making big money. It seems more and more that we are getting crushed when they present their version of Aspen to us, which we don’t like but can’t argue well enough against.
We can’t beat them, and we can’t join them. If this sounds like an illogical choice, then I have made my point. It doesn’t have to make sense to us. We don’t have to come up with logical decisions in order to say “no” to the steady growth of our town. If “I don’t know — I just fell in love with the place” was enough good reason for us to call this place home, then “I don’t know — I just don’t like it” is enough to shoot down a proposed new development project. It sounds logical to me, anyway.
Roger Marolt believes in survival of the most emotional. Email email@example.com.
On a recent September Saturday morning, I awoke with an intense yearning to lose myself in the mountains, disconnect from cell service, and rediscover why I decided to call Aspen home in the first place. Standing there, at the Cathedral Lake trailhead, I knew I was right where I needed to be.