Marolt: Being the Aspenite I hope to become
“I take it back.” It’s a hollow sentence; completely meaningless. It is the escape hatch from “I’m sorry” — perhaps the most difficult thing to say and, many times, nearly as hard to hear as it is a test of grace to accept.
The greatest sin of Judas was not his betrayal of Christ. That transgression is way too common. His biggest sin was not believing in the healing and redemptive power of the betrayed’s forgiveness. So, it is not this week that I take back the personal attack I launched against Mark Hunt last week, since that is impossible. The damage is done. Instead, I humbly ask him to forgive me.
I am sorry, Mark Hunt. And while I’m at it, I’m sorry, Aspen City Council. I could have been kinder toward you, too.
The political air in Aspen has been charging the past couple of years by an uplift of construction activity and zoning mismanagement so that the ions of discontent have been gathering and frantically seeking a place to discharge. From the cloud of thought I condensed from the vapors of restlessness, my target became the developer swinging a 2-iron in the storm: Mark Hunt. A branch of the bolt struck City Hall. I wish that I’d remained grounded.
The real issue is the building of an affordable hotel in Aspen. I do not believe that the purported benefits the hotel brings to our community are worth what the Aspen City Council was willing to give up in the form of building-code variances to entice Hunt to build it. I believe our elected officials are not in sync with the beliefs of most Aspenites on this. That’s all. While I still firmly believe this and I encourage people to vote against the project, it should not have become personal.
The previous paragraph would not have made a good column — it’s too short, not entertaining and gives nobody a moment of pause to mull anything over. It is a hazard of column-writing that, when we don’t have enough to say, we often end up expounding by finagling ourselves into familiar literary quagmires where we can fake getting tangled in what appear to be inescapable messes that, when we explosively extricate ourselves from them in the end, we come out looking like heroes. This fairly describes the marshland of words I took snakes, weasels and skunks through last week on my way to hiding them in a woodpile of warped lumber.
Part of what prompted my apology is thinking about two general types of longtime Aspenites: one sweet and one bitter. I adore the people whose lives have become part of Aspen’s history. I plan on being one of them someday, so I’m on the lookout for role models. I’m not particularly interested in becoming a character. I would rather be seen as a kind person; wise would be fine, too, even if a long shot.
My father was a legendary hell-raiser the first half of his life here who mellowed into a contentedly philosophical resident who liked just about everyone by the time he died a dozen years ago. With this transformation, he kind of left me a lifetime map to see where detours might be taken to shave a little time in getting to the desired destination.
Basically what I’ve figured out is that the angst and worry acceptable in young Aspenites as proof of their passion is not appealing in people who have been here awhile. It seems they should know better.
The bitter old-timer remembers the past, tries to live in it today and projects its resurgence into the future, running through all that stands in his way of hopelessness. The sweet old-timer also remembers the past fondly but accepts the present as it is and looks optimistically to what the future will bring. If I speak with someone who has been around awhile and I feel calmer instead of more agitated afterward, that’s how I decide if that’s the Aspenite I want to emulate.
The bottom line is that if I’m bitching and moaning and picking fights with developers and degrading myself by spewing venom and meanness 10 years from now, I will have failed in hitting my targeted resident status. The most beautiful Aspenites are the ones who inspire.
Few start out as model Aspenites, but thankfully, some do become them. The normal path is long meandering through experience, but I figure, what the heck, why not push the envelope toward actually being today the Aspenite I hope to become?
Roger Marolt knows we can become ugly or beautiful depending on which surroundings we focus on. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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