Roger Marolt: Santa Pause is coming to town

Roger Marolt
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Roger Marolt

Peace grows from the seeds of contemplation planted in the fertile soil of pause, watered with prayer and fertilized with meditation. Pauses are good.

Not only are they good, we need them. Spring break. A sabbatical. A cease fire. We can’t work effectively without stopping for a cup of coffee now and then. We need vacations. A training regimen without recovery days is counterproductive to our fitness. You can ski deep powder all day and the best part still might be standing quietly on a ridge at the end of it watching the sun break through the clouds in a golden burst of magnificence as it sets. Pauses in the daily routine steer us in new directions more fulfilling than the old. Pauses can show how lucky we are and why we wouldn’t change a thing, if we could.

Life in Aspen, like everywhere else, has been crazy over the life of COVID-19, the pandemic we vaguely pinpoint the beginning of and, after it did, nothing much has made sense. The mad rush to be here has knocked the breath out of us who already were. There is little housing available and less service to be had in almost all regards. The building has gone wild, yet still can’t keep pace with the demolition. We feel often like we are loosing our individual minds, but we have only mistaken them for our collective soul. Like with so many friends and acquaintances, we lost track of it during the dark times. It is AWOL. Many will not think of it until they see it again. Here’s to hoping it comes back to be seen.

More than ever we needed a pause. We got one! It will be an inconvenience to a few, but is there any doubt it will be better for all? City Council has put the kibosh on issuing residential building permits for the next six months and new short-term rentals for nine. Take a deep breath. Take a look around. Take a gander at what happens next. We have a little time.

It took moxy to make this stand. Isn’t it funny that it almost always requires courage to do the right thing? I would go so far as to say that the more right something is, the harder it is to do. My hat is off to our City Council for doing something we all wanted them to do, on some level or another. Hurrah! The timing as a holiday gift was perfect. knowing this moratorium is in place gives us a psychological boost to get through the impending madness through Jan. 3.

Although the economic undercurrents stirred by the pandemic are only pushed deeper momentarily by the halt to new construction and using second homes as hotels, at least on the surface of things we can look at what normal once sort of resembled and decide if we liked it. We can take a deep breath and concentrate on our turns during the ski season that will come eventually (I promise it will snow this winter.) We’ll get a regular taste of Food & Wine in June. Fourth of July might bring us back to see what the fun kind of crazy looks like again.

We have six months to get our mojo back. The gift of the moratorium is not unlike Clarence the angel being sent to George Bailey so he could see what a wonderful life he almost threw away. This is our chance to see what we had here before the Pandemic hit and never again take that for granted. Moreover, we might even be moved to cherish our lives here as a great gift that we were so foolish for ever wishing it was something else, something bigger, something more posh, a better return on investment.

We have some time to think about the one-two punch of short-term vacation rentals and remote working that we never saw coming. Do we like it? Do we hate it? Can we craft a plan to make them make our town a better place than it was?

Taking a pause does not guarantee that an answer will be found. It does not promise things will be better after taking it. A pause only affords us an opportunity to understand, to put things in perspective. It provides a chance to accept, reject, and adjust our expectations and actions. If we give this pause the respect it is due, we may or may not find answers, but we just might find peace of mind.

Roger Marolt is not opposed to considering turning this six-month building moratorium into an annual event.


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